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‘Sugar Arts’ school opens at Doneckers
By: TIFFANY WOODALL Review Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
‘Tis the season of sugar plums, so it’s only appropriate that the Sugar Arts Institute is (re)opening the doors of the former Restaurant at Doneckers just days before Christmas.
This international non-profit, brain child of Master Confectioner Julie Bashore, is the only one of its kind in the United States. Since July, locations have opened in Hong Kong and Mexico, with Australia, New Zealand and England on the horizon. Its mission is to serve the community while educating entrepreneurs and hobbyists.
The academic program offers hybrid courses, both online and in-studio, yielding a diploma, certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree sequentially in five years. Each level is comprised of 12 courses, and each course consists of three consecutive, eight-hour intensive classes followed by a period of time for students to complete assignments.
"This is an art that needs a lot of practice," said Bashore, "so you can’t sit and read it in a book and say, ‘OK, I know how to decorate cakes.’ It just doesn’t happen."
Bashore was born in England but grew up in Zimbabwe, which is where she met her husband, Bucky. The couple traveled the world together and spent a lot of time in third-world countries. This experience inspired Bashore to establish a teaching institution to train individuals to operate a home business.
"It amazes me that someone who has nothing, really, will give what they’ve got," said Bashore. "They’re hungry to work and to earn a living."
With access to a computer, students in third-world countries can participate in live-screening classes (not pre-recorded). Bashore’s goal is to secure sponsorships for international students, thus providing them with all necessary equipment and materials at no cost to them.
Classes will focus on a combination of culinary techniques and business sense — point of sale, marketing, basic accounting and costing — with an emphasis on safe cooking practices. Pennsylvania is one of few states that allows its residents to certify their home kitchens for commercial use, so proper understanding of sanitation requirements and equipment management is essential, said David M. Davis, Bashore’s right-hand man.
While the primary function of the institute is to teach classes, Bashore intends to use the newly renovated space as a venue for hosting functions such baby showers, high teas, weddings, business gatherings and cocktail parties. In addition to hosting such events, Bashore and her team will cater a menu tailored to the specific needs of each customer.
That’s where Davis comes in. Davis, of Manheim, is a graduate of the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts, pastry division, and brings years of culinary experience to the Institute.
"It’s exciting to be here, and for me, it’s exciting to work with Julie," he said. "The big thing for me, and Julie and I agree on this, is buy local and use fresh stuff. We have farmers, we have fresh vegetables. If people are spending money here, we’re going to keep as much of it here as we possibly can. It’s about giving back to the people that are giving to us. That’s what’s important."
The Institute will offer an ethnic palette of flavors, drawing from Bashore’s European and South African roots and Davis’ American and Jewish recipes.
"I don’t want to have a set menu," said Bashore. "We just want to be open-minded, and when someone comes in with a specific need, we’ll accommodate them."
Sticking to its mission of serving the community, instructors will be invited to share their culinary or niche expertise at free demonstrations and topical weekend or evening courses.
"We’re going to have all sorts of things going on wholly and solely for the Ephrata community, whereby we can provide free demos, free fun days, so that the community can come in and get the benefit of it as well," said Bashore. "This is for everybody."
It all begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a Royal English High Tea featuring traditional English food. Bashore will present information on the history and customs of high tea, such as why people point their pinky fingers when sipping their beverages.
Apart from developing and managing the Institute, Bashore is in the process of writing her first book, expected to be published this time next year. And some may recognize her as the winner of TLC’s "Ultimate Cake Off," season two, episode eight: Fairy Tale Weddings, which premiered March 22, 2010.
For more information about upcoming events or details about booking the Sugar Arts Institute venue, visit sugarartsinstitute.org or contact Bashore at 951-7557. The Institute is located at 333 N. State St., Ephrata. More ‘SUGAR ARTS’, page A15