Piece of cake
MEMORIES OF LICKING batter off a spoon kept playing in her mind. She remembered the texture and taste of the remnants of flour and sugar and chocolate and the smell of the finished product.
While Terissa Bushell did not think of baking as career, she took a leap of faith.
“That’s all I can say,” she said. “There were times that I was really afraid of the outcome especially when I shopped around for equipment and saw the price tags. I was daunted by the prospect, of being a pastry chef full-time.”
Bushell actually started baking as a side hustle at school: “It was a way for me to get extra lunch money so I would sell cheesecakes to my friends. Although I used to watch my grandmother toil in the kitchen I always wanted to be a crime scene investigator. I double majored in law and mathematics at the Barbados Community College (BCC) but when law felt dry I switched to management at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.”
She spent a few years working at an accounting firm, then studied early childhood education at Erdiston College. However, it was during her tenure at the accounting firm that she honed her baking skills and eventually decided it was time to pursue pastry making as a business.
“People in my neighbourhood told tell me I was good at it, but I didn’t really take it into consideration until I started feeling different at work,” she said. “I was getting a steady income but at a point I was not getting the satisfaction from my job that I used to. It was then I thought that the members in my community were on to something.
“As a young person I was glad to be hired but at the same time my mind was tugging to something else. After talking with my boss about my feelings, she gave me her blessings and that was it.”
Terissa jumped elbow deep into learning something new about the craft. She watched YouTube videos to improve on her skills and did loads of research and trial and error tests to gain confidence.
She told EASY that her parents were helpful in her new venture and encouraged her to go after her goals. At first, it was a challenge with financing, but Terissa’s parents did not give up on her and that pushed her to work harder. And as time passed, orders started to roll in, so much that days she would spend hours on her feet baking.
Over the years, the St Philip resident had to create some of the most unusual and flamboyant cakes for her customers but the most challenging of all these requests was a birthday cake for a toddler.
“In Barbados there is not a lot of equipment readily available. For example there are structures which need to be in place for topsy-turvy cakes. I did a Blaze Monster truck cake and I never heard of Blaze before I had to make the topper.
“I had to watch a YouTube tutorial to complete it. I feel it was divine intervention that there was even a tutorial . . . . I appreciated that tutorial so much that I left a comment expressing my gratitude and explaining how helpful it was.
“Creating cakes and making people’s wishes a reality is hard, but somehow pastry chefs find a way to get the job done.”
Terissa’s sales grew as a result of word of mouth. Before she created a Facebook and Instagram account for her business her customers spread the word of how talented she was. Thanks to her boyfriend who is skilled in graphic design, she also has polished business cards and an official website.
Her chocolate cakes are a big hit. She admitted, however, that she did not uniquely develop the recipe on her own but from watching video tutorials and researching recipes, she has found a way to make the formula her own. Out of every five orders she receives, at least three are for chocolate cakes.
Although the 29-year-old has gained valuable knowledge over the years, she refers the customer to someone else if there is any task she finds too challenging.
She makes cookies, sweet breads, puddings, cupcakes, pies, tarts, cheesescakes and several other baked goods along with a variety of flavoured cakes and frostings.
Terissa’s business, Teri’s Pastries, has been in operation over the past six years and in the future she hopes to supply not only her community and nation with sweet delights, but the entire Caribbean.