From Stage Crew to Bakery Apprentice Partnership inspired by THS Footloose the Musical
An upcoming stage production of Footloose the Musical at Tahoma High School is the inspiration behind a new partnership between CJs Bakery in Black Diamond and Tahoma Performing Arts Boosters. CJ’s owner Jim Storer has been mentoring a Tahoma High School student, Ella Weiner, in the craft of baking and producing a signature treat that will be sold as a specially featured item at CJ’s Bakery as well as at the concessions table during the play.
“We are excited for this unique partnership with CJ’s Bakery which allows us to offer a youth development opportunity to one of the Footloose crew members. Now, not only is Ella working and learning behind the scenes of theater work, she is through the generosity of Jim Storer and CJ’s, gaining exposure to her planned career and gaining job skills. Building and growing youth across a variety of areas is key to our work overall with the program. We can’t thank Jim and CJ’s enough and Ella too for all the great work being done,” says David Downing, President of Tahoma Performing Arts Boosters.
Ella Weiner, who has a dream to own her own bakery, quickly took full advantage of the opportunity to gain relevant job experience and training in the baking industry. A sophomore at Tahoma High, she has long been baking on her own, experimenting with recipes and producing treats for family and friends. She had previously won 1st Place in the Maple Valley Farmer’s Market Pie Baking Contest youth division with an entry she and a friend put together – Raspberry Lemonade Two-Bite Pies.
For this new challenge, Weiner came to her first meeting with CJ’s owner Jim Storer, prepared with three ideas for her signature Footloose themed treat. Storer advised her on how to make the items, offering up his bakery as Ella’s laboratory and guiding her in selection of recipes and methods to produce the treats in a commercial bakery.
Under Storer’s mentorship, Weiner prepared samples of all three items. She created comment cards for taste testing with two focus groups: the Footloose cast at a rehearsal, and the Tahoma High School staff and faculty in their break room. Tasters filled out comment cards and Weiner used them to select the featured theme item to sell.
The ‘Bomont Blue Ribbon Caramel Apple Pie’ was the most popular, with her ‘Maple ‘Kevin Bacon’ Cupcakes’ a close second. Ella Weiner adjusted her tasty confection based on feedback she received — the caramel apple turnover treat will be larger than the ones we used for the sampling because the feedback was to put more apple in the pastry which will be accomplished by making them larger.
Weiner will work with Storer to produce them in his bakery and keep them in stock through the run of Footloose. The apple treats will sell for $2 each and are available at CJ’s Bakery beginning April 14 through May 16, and at the concessions table during intermissions at Tahoma High School’s production of Footloose the musical, May 8, 9, 14, 15, 16th.
Jim Storer, owner of CJ’s Bakery, has generously donated his time, bakery, and ingredients to mentor Ella Weiner, and is donating proceeds from sales of the Bomont Caramel Apple Pie turnovers to Tahoma Performing Arts Boosters to fund further educational opportunities for young people.
“It’s an awesome youth development opportunity and the direction I’ve been wanting us to go more with Tahoma Performing Arts, growing the program to reach more youth and helping them have life preparing experiences. Given that our program works with high school youth, I’m hoping for us to find more ways for things like this to happen,” says Downing.
CJ’s Bakery is a 3rd generation family-owned and operated bakery since 1995, located at 30800 3rd Ave (Hwy 169), Black Diamond. Open Tues-Sat, 4 am to 6 pm.
Tahoma High School’s Footloose the Musical plays May 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, at 7 pm. Saturday matinees are May 9 and 16 at 2 pm. Tickets at the door one hour before showtime. $10 adults, $7 Students. Tahoma Middle School Theatre, 24425 SE 216, Maple Valley. More info at www.TahomaDrama.org