The Upper Midwest Bakery Association is proud to induct three new members to the UMBA Hall of Fame in 2012.
175 Years of Baking
Three outstanding gentleman who have contributed life-long service in the baking industry were inducted into the 2012 UMBA Hall of Fame:
Jeff Schwietering, John Fish, & Curt Borchert
Their stories are a tribute to the way bakers come to be bakers; with the support of mentors while they apprentice into the industry and attain education. Their stories are living witness to a long standing tradition. Each man was humbled and surprised by the honor. Family present was of great importance to each one.
Jefff Schwietering at age fifteen needed a job to help his family with some financial needs. His mother and a disabled WWII veteran husband were raising six children. A family friend, Lester Bakke, owned the city bakery. Les offered Jeff a job and became his mentor in the baking industry. As most apprentices he started frying doughnuts, cleaning and work around the bakery. Each year Lester would teach Jeff tips and tricks to becoming a great baker. Jeff to this day continues this friendship when they meet for coffee and doughnuts.
Jeff graduated from Buffalo High School, MN. He enrolled at Dunwoody Institute in the Baking and Cake Decorating program. He graduated in the spring of 1966 and with the education he received he was prepared for the career of his life.
He enlisted in the United States Navy. During this time he married the love of his life, Judy. Following an honorable discharge he went back to Buffalo and started to raise a family of three children. He needed a job. Lester had closed his bakery and was the lead baker at Holmquists, IGA store. He suggested that Jeff apply there also. There he was mentored as a scratch baker and on the facets of the baking trade which prepared Jeff to be ready for a career in a management position.
In 1973 his first position as a bakery manager was at Marv’s Red Owl in Annandale, MN. Jeff moved on to a position at Super Valu in Elk River, MN. This position had more responsibility and was more business oriented. His next position was at Cub Foods in Brooklyn Park, MN. Jeff next took a position as Bakery Manager at Country Market which later became a Nash Finch Store Sax Foods, Elk River, MN.
Years of experience led to specialization in the field as Jeff moved to Hazelwood Farms Corporation out of Missouri. Hazelwood Farms became Pillsbury and later General Mills. The duration of Jeff’s career was as a bakery tech for Gregorys Foods.
Jeff’s creative mind was important in finding new ways to promote products. He frequently took 1st and 2nd place at the Minnesota Bakers Convention for creativity in products and display. He has tried to give back to his community in as many ways as he could in positions of leadership.
John Fish is a fourth generation baker in the Fish family. He worked for his father Bill Fish at the Home Bakery, currently known as Gingerbread House Bakery in Rochester. He started as soon as he could reach the bench. He has lived a nonstop busy life since childhood. Working alongside his family at the bakery growing up, gave him an appreciation for long hours and hard work. John attended Dunwoody where he majored in Baking after high school and returned home with new ideas and methods for baking. Later he became the owner of the Gingerbread House in the early 80’s. Gingerbread House is celebrating 60 years as a bakery in Rochester, MN.
John was nominated for his humbleness as a boss, creativity as a baker, guidance as a father and concern for people in need. He is an unbelievably kind and charitable man, that takes great pride in serving the Rochester area. He has done everything from, “Free Bread Day,” his grandfather’s tradition to teaching cake decorating to school children. A story about John; John found a homeless guy Joe living under a bush behind the bakery. John gave him something to drink and then hired him. This allowed Joe to move off the street and into an apartment and eventually back east with his family.
The busier John Fish is the more he strives for excellence. He operates a small family style store front with an “old time style” flavor. Yet, behind the scenes he operates one of Rochester’s largest wholesale operations! Not to mention the OLDEST! Recently John created the, “World Largest Gingerbread Man,” as recorded in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” John is an extremely skilled Cake Decorator/Designer using buttercream icing in a way many new cake designers can only imagine.
John has been a member of UMBA since the early 80’s and thoroughly enjoys participating in the cake decorating contest, baked foods contest, judging, attending seminars but mostly catching up with old friends in the industry.
Curt Borchert CMB
Curt Borchert started in the baking industry at age 13.It happened in an unusual way, picking up golf balls at a local driving range. The owner, Doc O’Brien, a Master Baker, also owned the local bakery. Doc was a member of the Minnesota Baker’s Association. He owned Page’s Bakery in North Mankato, MN. At the end of the season Curt and his brother were asked which one wanted to work in the bakery. Curt’s brother said no way! That was the beginning of a life long journey in the Baking Industry which has lasted over 60 years.
Trading in the driving range for the baker’s bench seemed like an easy trade off. Curt apprenticed under O’Brien until age 23, when he was drafted by the army. Service to his country may have derailed his baking career temporarily, but when he returned, he picked up where he left off. He was hired as a bakery manager for Red Owl, Lake Crystal, MN, and later Piggly Wiggly in Mankato, MN.
Curt had his hand in shaping the future of the industry! Curt taught at the Mankato Area Vocational Technical Institute, Mankato, Minnesota. Curt was the cake decorating/pastry instructor for 18 years. He served on a committee that wrote a statewide curriculum for bakery programs in Minnesota. Curt also taught at Dunwoody Institute in the baking program.
The next opportunity in his career led to years of employment with Puratos, B&R, and Best Brands as a sales/tech service representative.
Working with youth has always been a passion; decorating cookies with school children, as a scout master, leading youth groups, church retreats and educating young adults in the industry has been a part of the story. Teaching on all levels is one of his greatest gifts.
As Executive Director of UMBA, Curt appreciates that people in this industry are very open to sharing information, changing with the times and always ready to lend each other a helping hand. Contributions to the industry from past experience is in response to a passion for the industry.
Curt has been married to his wife JoAnn for 50 years. They have two children, Greg (wife Carri Lynn); Michelle (husband Peder); and four grandchildren, Brett, Heather, Gretchen and Jonathon.
2012 Scholarship Winner – Erica Miller
Erica Miller Hibbing Community College Hibbing, Minnesota
Erica Miller won a $500.00 scholarship at the “Refresh Your Bakery,’” convention. She is a Culinary Arts Student at the Hibbing Community College. She entered the Culinary Arts classroom in the fall of 2011. Chef Dan Lidholm said, “Since getting to know Erica as both a student and a person I have found her to be very conscientious and talented student.”
Erica is a self motivated person in pursuit of knowledge in the Food Service Industry. She is always willing to lend other students a helping hand. In the Bakeshop she is called on to prepare special desserts because of her skill.
Erica is looking for summer employment in a Bakery in order to increase her skills. She has spent much of her youth baking with her mother and grandmother.
Erica is from Crosby, MN. She is a 2011 graduate of the Crosby – Ironton High School. After the completion of the Culinary Arts Program and getting experience she plans to get a business degree and open her own business.
The Upper Midwest Bakery Association is proud to induct two new members to the UMBA Hall of Fame in 2011.
• Former Executive Director of the Baker’s Association for over 20 years
• Worked with a core group of interested and involved bakers.
• Membership grew under his guidance.
• Developed the annual convention to be a premier local show in the country
• Instrumental in starting the Bakers Hall of Fame
• Executed seminars for bakers at the convention and around the state.
• Published a monthly newsletter for the Association
• Rallied the baker troops to work with legislators to repeal the ‘dump the donut tax’
For over 20 years Ralph worked countless hours on behalf of the bakers of the UpperMidwest.
We are here today because of the work of Ralph.
• Born in Redwood Falls Minnesota
• United States Navy 1965 – 1968
• Worked at Butterfluff Bakery in Redwood Falls
• Assistant Manager Barlow’s Food Rochester, MN 1969-1970
• Purchased Glenwood Bakery with wife Elaine in 1970.
• Renamed the bakery Gingerbread House. Opened the full line café in 1975
(Gingerbread Bakery and Café)
• Managed Nelson’s County Market Faribault, MN 1980-1983
• Managed Nelson’s County Market Albert Lea, MN 1983-1986
• Purchased Kolb Bakery, Austin, MN 1986-1990 (Sunrise Bakery)
• Best Brands Corp. Detroit, MI Sales 1990-1994
• Best Brands Corp., Eagan, MN Lead Bakery Technician 1994-2005 Instore Sales 2005- Dec. 31, 2010
Father of 6 Children and 10 Grandchildren
2011 Scholarship Winner – Brianne Mathiesen
Brianne has a true passion for baking, which was her reason for choosing a career path in the baking/food industry. She is a sophomore at Johnson & Wales University. She is working towards a bachelor’s degree in Baking & Pastry Arts and a bachelor’s degree in Food Service Management. During the summer months Brianne works at Great Harvest Bread Company. This spring she will be interning in France as part of her degree completion, and plans to share these experiences with her fellow students and colleagues in the United States. Brianne enjoys being creative with healthy baking and creating beautiful new cakes & pastries. Following graduation Brianne plans to work as a pastry chef or in a management position.