Staff profiles: Teresa Fortino
It took about a week for Teresa Fortino and the students she calls “The Few, the Proud, the Cookie Crew” to hand-decorate about 200 dozen holiday cookies.
Fortino, a decorator at the MSU Bakers, said that the cookies were for the annual Holiday Dinner that takes place in every dining hall across campus. The Holiday Dinner was Dec. 7.
"A lot of people off-campus will come in and buy tickets to eat on campus," she said. "The dinner is a special menu created by the culinary team and our bakery management as well. Usually there’s a carving station where they’re doing roast beef, and there’s fish and all kinds of appetizers and things."
The cookies that Fortino and the "Cookie Crew" frosted included snowmen, evergreen trees, snowflakes and red rounds with sprinkles.
In addition to decorating cookies, the crew decorates cakes for the dining halls, as well as birthday or other special occasion cookies and cakes that individuals can order through MSU Bakers.
In the summer, the students help create mock-up designs for the special football theme cakes that are in the dining halls on football game days. They make the design on cardboard so the crew can see what the design looks like when they copy in onto the cakes in the fall.
The students also design the special cakes that individuals order. Photos of cakes with a three-dimensional Beaumont Tower; mardi gras masks; a truck pulling fifth-wheel trailer down a Montana highway; and Spongebob and Patrick cartoon characters molded from Rice Krispie treats are just a few of the student creations that adorn the walls of the decorating room.
"We'll get an order for a cake, and there'll be a huddle because somebody's doing it, and they think, 'What if we do this?' and 'What if we do this?'" Fortino said. "The input on it is really amazing."
Fortino has worked at the Bakers for 13 years and in the decorating room for the past four of those years. She loves the creativity of her job and the interaction she has with students. Her love for the students is clear from the way in which she talks about the wall photos of current and former students holding their edible creations.
"Someday I would love to see a reunion of every student who'd ever worked at the Michigan State bakery," said Fortino.
"Before we came here, we were called the Central Bakery, and then our retail name was called Puffin’s Pastry Shop, and they started in the 1970's, I think. They brought all of the bakers that were in all of the different res halls and created the Central Bakery so they could do big productions and everything.
"So can you imagine the students and where they are and what they are doing? If we ever had a reunion — oh boy, that would be incredible," she said.