Flour spread everywhere, mixing bowls on the counter, and the scent of fresh bread filling the air. Jacee Retherford pulls her freshly finished bread from the oven with her noticeable burn mark on her forearm from previous batches. The kitchen is Retherford’s new stomping ground after she had a track career at Lane Community College.
The 20-year-old native from John Day, Oregon finished her track career and picked up the apron full time. She loves to bake and it is something that has been apart of her life for quite sometime.
“I have loved it for as long as I can remember, but I really got into it when I was in high school on weekends,” Retherford says. “My mom and I used to bake and cook together all the time. In high school, she was gone on the weekends a lot and I just started to do it alone.”
Retherford picked up the love of baking from her mother who baked on the side from her regular job. She knew she wanted to be a baker after making a cake in high school.
“I did my first wedding cake on my own in my senior year. I’d helped my mom with wedding cakes before but she didn’t really have the time to do that one so I did it pretty much all on my own and that’s when I knew,” Retherford says.
Retherford is currently in the Culinary Program at Lane and though she is in her first term it comes naturally to her. Right now it is about the basic techniques of being a baker, but she will learn more.
“I’m starting to learn a lot about seasonal baking and utilizing the things that are in season when I bake rather than just mindlessly baking just to bake,” Retherford says. “I go to the Saturday Market a lot to use local seasonal things when I bake at home now and I’d never done that until recently.”
She is currently balancing working 20 plus hours a week, and going to school. She hopes to one day have her own bakery with her sister. Something that has always been a dream to her.
“I would like to own a small bakery someday in the distant future. I want a store front. I hope to sell a few breads but mostly pastries and cakes,” Retherford says. “I also want to run a wedding cake business out of it as well in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.”
There was a point when Retherford contemplated being a chef instead of a baker, but baking ended up having more of what she wanted. She finds baking rewarding and something she can do for others where as cooking she likes to do to unwind after a long day.
“I don’t want to cook on a line in a hot restaurant. I want to wake up early or stay late at night and laminate dough and listen to good music, make a big batch of buttercream for the cupcakes I had made earlier in the day,” Retherford says. “I want to do a wedding cake for someone and have it take there breathe away when they walk into the reception hall. All that is more rewarding for me.”
Only one term into Culinary school, but Retherford knows what she wants to do. The love of cooking she has is noticeable to everybody.
“It’s evident how much she loves baking with how excited she gets when she talk about it. Her wheat brea was the best I have had in a long time,” Ruth Murphy says.
Retherford will continue her baking journey and her hopes of becoming a shop owner and there is a saying from Virgina Woolf that she lives by.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”