Some families have holiday baking and cooking traditions that can be traced back for generations. For others, it’s as simple as sitting in pajamas and ordering online from a local bakery, restaurant or caterer.
Passionate about cooking and baking since she was a child, Marlene Zebleckis opened Sweet Temptations Dessert Company in 2004 after graduating from culinary arts school. Initially operating out of her home, she continued to grow as word spread and more customers sought out her cakes, cookies, bars, cheesecakes and more. After renting a church kitchen for a few years, she opened her current storefront in December 2015.
“One of our favorite recipes is my mother-in-law’s apple slices,” she said. “Think slab pie with a cinnamon apple glaze.”
Her favorite cooking tradition occurs at Thanksgiving where about 25-30 people gather and share their favorite made-from-scratch dishes.
For some, opening their own place was the next step after a long road in the hospitality industry. For others, it was a new career path.
Friends and family had been the recipients of Steve Buresh’s delicious cheesecakes for years. But after he lost his job and struggled in finding a new one, he opened the first Steve Buresh’s Cheesecake Store and Sandwich shop. He opened a store in Oswego last year.
Opening Upper Crust Catering in 2003 was the culmination of plenty of hard work and great success for chef Mitch Morrell, who worked as an executive chef a tprivate country clubs in Florida and Illinois before opening his full service catering company in Yorkville.
Jodi Behrens opened The Village Grind Coffee & Tea Co., 23 years ago, because Oswego needed it and she wanted it.
“Our inspiration for opening was to have a cozy, homey place for people to share fellowship, coffee and laughter,” she said.
Angie Davis was in the banking, not baking, industry but had previously worked at her aunt’s country market/gas station, which had a bakery. Long story short, she ultimately met her husband there, got married and started family. When her aunt retired, and with her own children older, Davis decided to turn it into Angie’s Sugar Buzz and today it’s one of the most popular spots in Sandwich.
“God had a plan for me,” she said. “I never dreamt of owning a bakery, but I’vea lways been creative and artistic so I’m passionate about baking and decorating.”
Now’s the time to get one of Angie Sugar Buzz’s favorite holiday treats – pumpkin bars.
“They are amazing,” Davis said. “People rave about them and we sell them in sheets. And our pies are also popular, especially for Thanksgiving.”
While the turkey sandwich with homemade relish and toasted pecans is a popular choice at The Village Grind, at the Behrens home, holidays are complemented with son Nate’s smoked cornish game hens, featuring a variety of spices and sauces.