The University of Connecticut is running a Thanksgiving bake sale for students and families to order various baked goods ranging from pies and cheesecake to gingerbread men.
Rob Landolphi, culinary operations manager, and Eric Merkle, bakery manager, spoke about the yearly bakesale and how the program has evolved. Over the past 30 years, Landolphi said the menu has been greatly expanded to follow trends and popular demands.
“30 years ago, the only items offered on the menu at the bake sale were a couple different pies. Now the menu has expanded to more than just pies, we’ve added cheesecakes, cookies, breads, etc.,” Landolphi said. “We continuously follow food trends and are making changes to our annual menus based on demands by our customers.”
In particular, Landolphi said multiple popular items have been added to the menu since he and Merkle joined the project eight years ago. They’ve found that gluten-free items have been a very successful addition to the menu.
“We have both been involved with the Thanksgiving bake sale for just over eight years and have seen the menus evolve over the years,” Landolphi said. “Items such as gingerbread men, focaccia bread and pumpkin whoopi
ee pies were added to the preexisting menu of mainly pies. The gluten-free pies and cheesecakes were added four years ago and have been a very popular addition to the bake sale.”
This year, Landolphi said some of the largest challenges for them include maintaining COVID-19 regulations and advertising their programs. To maintain safety, he said they are requiring personal protective gear, social distancing and will be using open-air tents for people to more easily social distance while picking up their goods.
“All our staff is wearing personal protective gear (masks, gloves, etc.) and social distancing among the bakery … We have established an online ordering system and will have a designated pick up area under a tent, using social distancing for safe pick up,” Landolphi said.
Advertising, Landolphi said, has been similarly challenging. Despite this, he said they are happy with the number of goods they have produced thus far.
“We have seen our numbers improve and are so happy with the number of baked goods we produce every year,” Landolphi said. “For example, over 60 dozen chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, over 55 dozen assorted dinner rolls (pumpernickel, brioche, white, etc.) and over 250 assorted pies and cheesecakes.”
Landolphi also wanted to bring attention to the work done by the bakery year-round. He said he is proud of the work done by the team throughout the year.
“We are very proud to have a team of talented bakers, pastry chefs and kitchen assistants that are very dedicated to producing high-quality baked goods that the community can enjoy for the holidays,” Landolphi said. “These are the same delicious items offered to our students throughout the school year.”
Those interested in ordering from the Thanksgiving bakery sale should visit the bakery website to place their order by Nov. 11.