Service Sessions: Alyssa Jerrell | Ellie’s Bakery Manager

As we’ve started to see from past Service Sessions, tons of hard work and love goes into everything we do. This extends to our bakery, Ellie’s Bakery, as well. You’ve seen a glimpse into our servers’ lives, and our kitchen’s crew’s lives. Now ,venture into the world of Alyssa Jerrell, the manager at Ellie’s Bakery.

By Kelly Doran

What did you want to grow up to be when you were a child?
I always wanted to be a lawyer growing up, mostly just because I watched waaaay too much Law & Order throughout my childhood! I eventually decided to study Biology in college with the idea of going into Environmental Law, so that I would have a better understanding of the scientific aspect of climate change.
In the course of my studies I came to realize that agriculture and food are the way in which we most commonly and directly interact with the environment. Thus, I became interested in food and sustainable agriculture as a way to pursue justice for the environment, and justice for communities who do not have access to healthy, unprocessed foods. There is a beautiful potential in food for an opportunity to connect with our fundamental reliance on the earth, and our fellow man.

When did you know that the hospitality Industry was your calling?
My first job in high school was waiting tables at my best friend’s family restaurant. That family of five ran every single part of the business, from cooking and administration, to waiting the tables and running food. June and Sam, my friend’s aunt and uncle, ran the front of house operations and really took me under their wing. They were the most caring and hardworking people I have ever met. I was immediately inspired by them to work as hard as I possibly could, because every task I could take on was something I could take off of their plates. I give them all of the credit for my work ethic!

Following that experience, I’ve always been drawn to the humility of hospitality. When you work in the front of the house, your personal opinions/desires almost always have to take a back seat to those of the guest. It might sound unpleasant, but there is something very rewarding about constantly putting others before yourself. And of course, it is particularly satisfying to know that you have, in some small way, contributed to someone else’s happiness. I also enjoy the challenge of a cafe setting—with so very many moving parts to stay on top of, no two days are ever the same.

I do hope to move on from hospitality at some point, as I think farming is my true calling in life.I know there are countless valuable lessons I have yet to learn from participating in this end of the food supply chain!

What would you tell a person who was looking to join the field?
Don’t let yourself get put off by outside perceptions of hospitality. If you care to, you will find an opportunity to surround yourself with the most intelligent, creative, and incredibly hardworking people.

What is your absolute favorite pastry/goodie/yummy thing at Ellie’s?
CAKE. My favorite cake was an amazing du jour offering like 8 months ago—chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and peanut butter buttercream frosting.I think I ate 2 slices in about 20 minutes and I have no regrets. In the coffee world, my favorite creation was our Rosemary-Honey Latte, and our Holy Basil Lemonade is my favorite thing on the menu right now!

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far, here at Gracie’s Venture?
How to ask for help. This is something that I struggle with in general, but the Venture has really shown me what it is like to work in a team where there is an excess of genuinely supportive people around you. I have had to learn the hard way, several times, that it is far better to share a burden than drop it by yourself.