MCC bakery opens, giving students hands-on experience

CRYSTAL LAKE – Aspiring pastry chefs at McHenry County College have a new way to practice their craft with the opening of a student-run bakery.

Sweet Scots, MCC’s newest culinary addition, opens Tuesday but the college offered students and faculty a sneak peek of the bakery with free samples Monday.

Part of the school’s Culinary Management program, Sweet Scots gives students the experience they need to land jobs in the pastry industry, said Tina Drzal, chef instructor at MCC.

“It gives them the real-life, hands-on experience of actually running a bakery,” Drzal said. “I didn’t have that when I went to culinary school. Having that experience is all the difference in the world. It makes them more employable.”

Drzal has been trying to work Sweet Scots into the curriculum for four years and was able to launch the bakery this fall after writing it into the pastry degree program. The bakery offers breakfast pastries, cookies, pound cakes, hot and cold beverages and bars and tarts. The treats range from $1 to $4.

“Our challenge was trying to do something different than what the cafeteria is doing because we don’t want to poach off of them,” Drzal said. “We’re trying to do a lot of scratch stuff. Things you wouldn’t normally have.”

Drzal said the menu consists of items made almost entirely from scratch, as well as health-conscious beverages such as organic chocolate milk and coconut water.

Sweet Scots also is using iPads and Square technology to handle transactions, which will text or email receipts to customers.

“We’re trying to be as earth-friendly as we possibly can,” Drzal said.

Baking and pastry management student Michael Kulis said the class has given him the well-rounded experience of running a business.

“It’s given me good insight into running a bakery,” he said. “You have to figure out your demographic and figure out what to make. … But it’s more than that. You have to turn a profit in the end.”

Sweet Scots is open to the public and will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. The bakery’s primary location will be in the Scot room in the cafeteria, but occasionally will be in the atrium in Building A.

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