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My name is Hanna Jensen and I am a Great Barrington native. My passion for food began with eating: consuming all sorts of different and delicious foods throughout my early life made me realize what a pleasure food can bring. I come from a long line of home bakers and cooks, and holiday festivities were always centered around food. Sausage stuffing in the turkey at Thanksgiving, creamy rice pudding followed by roast duck with apples and prunes for Christmas Eve (a Scandinavian tradition), ham on Easter, and let’s not forget all the glorious sides that accompany the main dishes: roasted garlic fingerling potatoes, mashed butternut squash with apples, blanched green beans with aromatic toasted green beans..now I’m hungry.
I grew up without television which encouraged me to be creative when it came to finding things to do with my spare time. The kitchen was always a happy place for me, and I started baking at a very young age – first as my mother’s taste tester, and as soon as I could read I was baking things up for myself. When friends would come over and the question “What should we do now?” came up (as it did often), most times the answer was to head to the kitchen and bake something. The favorite go-to recipe was Midnight Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (which involved quite the color palate to ensure the brightest cake possible). The joy and anticipation that accompanied the process of now making the food I would enjoy was now permanently ingrained in my being.
As I grew into my teens I became more health conscious and developed an interest in the nutritional aspect of food while maintaining the passion in general. This furthered my ambition to create and taste, and I would cook for myself most times at home. I would experiment with different flavors and techniques, and then came a very defining moment in my life: I read the late Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. This book opened my eyes to a brand-new kitchen scene and what a life of food might be like, and I hungered for it.
The nourishment (pun intended) that food brought me persuaded me to access an internship in the kitchen at The Berkshire Co-op market my senior year in high school. The Co-op expanded my culinary horizons even more and I was granted the opportunity to use my passion and creativity while cooking - it reinforced the concrete joy that working with food brought me. This experience reiterated how significant the freedom to be creative was for my job satisfaction.
In 2005, I was responsible for the small number of baked goods offered by the prepared foods department until I was advised by the manager at the time to sit down and write a proposal to implement a full-scale baking program. I did, and upon approval, I became the Co-op’s first head baker of its brand-new Bakery sub-department. This lead position gave me the opportunity to utilize my creativity, further develop my baking skills and techniques and also learn new ones. After two years of baking full time for the Co-op, I decided it was time to start my OWN baking endeavor, and in March of 2007, The Sweetish Baker was born.
I take pride in what I do, and in addition to the joy the actual baking brings me, there is no other satisfaction like feedback from a happy customer. I love my job (most of the time), and although it takes up most of my time, I take satisfaction in the fact that I’m surrounded by one of the main sources of my happiness: food.