Rutgers baking club creates delicacies for charity
The Red Lion Café in the basement of the Rutgers Student Center every other Friday smells like a mixture of freshly baked cookies and waffles. Inside the Red Lion kitchen, the Rutgers Student Bakers are hard at work, whipping up treats for their next bake sale.
Serena Mueller, president of RSB, said the club meets biweekly to discuss new recipes and bake goods. The club bakes their goods on Fridays, then sells them on the following Monday.
“This past week, we had a savory baking day, so we did scones and bread,” said Mueller, a School of Engineering senior. “We’ve done breakfast-themed stuff ... bagels, donuts and cinnamon rolls.”
They sell the goods they bake for charity, she said. One of the more popular items is the cake shooter, cake in a shot glass with the club’s logo on it.
“Mini cakes in shot glasses are one of our big, big items that we sell. People really love that,” she said. “Our next bake sale is Monday, November 25, and it will be pie-themed. We’re going to have apple pie shooters in the little glasses.”
Jessica Gonzalez, a Rutgers graduate, started the club during her sophomore year at the University. She wanted a way to be able to bake while also serving the community.
“There were no internship opportunities with Dining Services,” she said. “I was also hosting a food blog at the time, and some of my friends wanted to learn baking from me. So I came up with the idea to start a baking club with a friend.”
After meeting the requirements set by Student Life to start a new club on campus, Gonzalez said she had to wait throughout winter break for a response to be approved or rejected. She was finally contacted and asked to come in and pitch the idea again to Student Life.
Initially, Gonzalez said her advisor told her she was going to reject the idea of the club, based on the difficulties of logistics and food safety when starting a cooking club on campus.
But Gonzalez came in with answers for every issue and question Student Life had, and the organization was approved.
From its humble beginnings in the food labs at Davidson Hall on Busch campus, the club was a success, Gonzalez said. After a food vendor left the basement of the RSC, the location was offered to the club, given a member would get ServSafe certified.
According to the ServSafe website, they deliver top-quality training to restaurant and foodservice professionals and are the premiere provider of educational resources.
“The ServSafe Food Safety Training Program leads the way in providing current and comprehensive educational materials to the restaurant industry. More than 4 million foodservice professionals have been certified through the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Exam, which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and Conference for Food Protection,” according to the website.
After being given access to the Red Lion kitchen, Gonzalez was told she would need to become ServSafe certified. She took an online course and an exam, and her certification is good for five years.
The kitchen access has helped the club boost production, as they now sell their baked goods to raise money for No Kid Hungry — Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, a children’s hunger charity.
“We sell our baked goods to raise money for children’s hunger. People really become perceptive to the concept,” she said. “In our first Rutgers Day, we made more than any other organization. We brought in $800 for eight hours.”
According to the No Kid Hungry website, one in five American children are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Kid Hungry is campaigning to end childhood hunger by connecting kids to the healthy food they need.
For last year’s Rutgers Day, Gonzalez said RSB raised about $1,000.
After Gonzalez graduated in May, she said Mueller took over as president of the organization and became ServSafe certified. The kitchen in the Red Lion is considered a commercial kitchen and is held to the same standards as a fully operational restaurant.
“This is a great organization, it brings smart, nice people together for a great cause,” Gonzalez said.