As many of you already know by now, January 15th is Sara Molinaro’s last day with us.
Sara has developed BAKE! tremendously during her tenure. Before the pandemic hit we were on a roll and even considering building a third classroom. Then our work came to an abrupt stop. Sara didn’t give up! She led us into the world of virtual baking which has broadened our geographic reach and increased accessibility to a wider range of students.
Thank you Sara!! We will miss you. It’s been a super successful run.
We have a great team at BAKE! Nikki Lohmann and Sue Chagas have come forward to co-lead us into the future. They are both long-time BAKE! instructors with tons of experience, lots of energy to continue the BAKE! traditions, and many innovative ideas about future possibilities. Congratulations and thank you, Sue and Nikki.
—Amy Emberling, Bakehouse Managing Partner
A Letter from Sara
It has been a pleasure to bake with you over the last five years. Whether we were in-person in Ann Arbor or conversing virtually across thousands of miles and many time zones, I feel lucky to have been part of such an extraordinary group of people who love baking, love sharing their triumphs (and failures—we’re human!), and love making delicious food.
The ability to expand this community virtually over the last two years was daunting and an uphill challenge; thank you for sticking with us as we navigated through getting our systems in place. It came with some really beautiful and unexpected effects; we got to meet your families, pets, and small babies, and learn and troubleshoot along the way. What a privilege.
I have become a better baker, a better instructor, and certainly a better person as a result of being able to spend time with all of you.
I always said that I was very lucky to work somewhere where people want to come. No one wants to stand in line at the DMV and renew their license but people love to bake with us and it has always been energizing to work at a place where students come in happy to bake and happy to learn.
The folks I have worked with here are smart, talented, and passionate about what they do every day. We should all be so lucky.
Zingerman’s has offered me many opportunities to grow and expand in many directions. I am eternally grateful for Amy’s guidance and leadership and look forward to seeing how BAKE! continues to grow and expand under the strong leadership of Nikki and Sue.
Notes from Staff & Students
Sara and I bonded over the pressure to read all The New Yorker stories in the appropriate time frame and the guilt associated with NOT being able to do that! It was great to share that with her and a worldview so that our “world” was not so small, I will miss her!
—Sue Chagas, BAKE! Co-Principal
We have Sara to thank for BAKE! surviving the pandemic by developing the virtual classes with Meg. Sara has always been more than willing to understand and make adjustments to the schedule when I had child care issues come up. There have been so many times that I’ve had to ask for “special treatment” and she never made me feel like it wasn’t okay to ask. I cannot express how much I’ve appreciated the flexibility in my schedule.
—Nikki Lohmann, BAKE! Co-Principal
Sara’s love of humanity shines through in everything she does, from her calm, gentle, open teaching style to her funny stories and willingness to laugh, no matter how crummy the day. I learn something new every time I work with her, about baking, yes, of course, but also about life in general. Who knew that after watching a spatula melt into a pot of mac & cheese, while not advisable, it is certainly possible to go ahead and snarf that right up anyway and live to tell the tale? Thanks for keeping things positive, pal. I’ll miss you!
—Mori Richner, BAKE! Instructor
I love how excited Sara always gets about sprinkles, and cookie/cupcake decorating. I’ll never forget one time she had me assist her in a private cupcake class she had scheduled with a Girl Scout tTroop. She showed the girls how to make Swiss buttercream. They were all really excited about sooo much butter!!! And of course we brought out all the sprinkles and played with fondant and made amazing adorable cupcakes. I think Sara has always focused on bringing a large amount of joy to our students. The Girl Scouts had an amazing time, and we were finding sprinkles in that classroom for months!
—Amelia Kiss, BAKE! Instructor
Sara is an incredibly knowledgeable baker and a fabulous teacher. I am in good company, as one of hundreds—thousands!—whose baking game has benefitted from spending time with her as she shared her expertise but also her comforting demeanor. What a gift to walk into a room and feel seen, heard, and acknowledged as an individual, and then patiently walked through every new technique with both humor and a steadying calmness that meets each person right where they’re at.
—Lindsay-Jean Hard, Bakehouse Marketer
So sad to hear this but good luck in whatever you do Sara. You were my first and favorite instructor. The virtual classes are amazing—thanks for getting that option up and running so successfully!
Sad to hear this. Sara-led classes were a big part of our effort to not just survive but thrive during the pandemic. When we traveled from NC to MI this summer, we poked our heads into that Bake area and were delighted to see her in person. And shocked when she remembered our names!
We are all better bakers from having learned from and laughed with Sara during our BAKE! classes. She will be missed, but celebrated, each time I bake something delicious.
Sara, I will miss you soooo much! You are so talented and funny and kind and patient! I enjoyed all the Bake classes you taught! Good luck and happy wishes to you!
Oh no!! So sad to hear that! I’ve so enjoyed your expertise and amazing classes, Sara. You made the pandemic so much more bearable! I have learned a lot in this past year. I hope you are jumping into something wonderful! Wherever you’re going, you’ll definitely make your mark! I will so miss you!
Knowing Sara for these years has been a privilege. Her knowledge and unruffled demeanor are the perfect combination for both learning and baking success! I’m excited for her and for what I know are great things coming her way.
Sara, thank you for all the wonderful bread and baking classes! I’ll always think of you when I do the “poke test” to see where I am on the “yeast rollercoaster.” You filled students with knowledge and with confidence (“Alex, you’re ready to go!”). Wishing you the very best in all your future endeavors!
On several occasions, I deliberately took classes on intimidating techniques, specifically because I knew that she could make them accessible, interesting, and versatile beyond the given recipe. (While also going out of her way to praise her colleagues for what they taught best!) And sure enough, I kept at those things after—truly the mark of a great teacher. You know what? I’m going to go buy a new ingredient and try some rolls this weekend in her honor. Thanks, Sara!
I don’t even know where to begin—when the virtual classes started, I was so intimidated by so many things when it came to baking, and with Sara’s help and fabulous instruction, I truly feel like I can do anything in the kitchen now! Nothing is off-limits. I can’t check the temp and humidity in my kitchen without thinking of Sara, and will forever name my sourdough starters Sara. Sara—good luck in your future endeavors and know that your teachings and wise words have left an indelible mark on so many of us!
Hungry for more?
- If you’re taken a BAKE! class, you can join our exclusive Facebook group. Join us here!
- For more tributes to Sara, read through the comments on this post in our BAKE! Facebook group.
- Read about Sara’s time setting up a bakery in Uganda in 10 days