The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

selling desserts to restaurants

Helena's picture

selling desserts to restaurants

Hi Everybody,


I would love to get some advice. What are the desserts restaurants (and/or caterers) tend to purchase from small dessert makers in their area instead of buying from Sisco? What would be different and welcoming to them?And what are the easiest desserts to process? A little background, I have never done this before professionally except a small stint as a personal chef. I do have valid Safe Serv Certification and have been baking seriously and taking classes last 12 years. Can not make anything out of my home in this state legally, but there is a café near me that has a large commercial kitchen and told me they would rent to me. I would like to concentrate on Central Euro. desserts since I used to live there and that is my heritage. For ex. Cheese cake made from quark, but not Sachertorte--a bit  too time consuming and too sweet in my opinion. I was thinking to have only 4-5 options and change 1-2 items each season if I am ambitious enough for that.

Is this the best forum for this ques. If anyone who has does this before could give me their opinion, I would greatly appreciate it. I am in a small lake town in the Midwest. There are 2 quite large decent restaurants not too far from me and golf courses with restaurants, etc. I know this is a big step, but I have managed the business books for our family business before so I am familiar with all that is required on that end, but it was not a food business and I did not have to do baking and/or marketing. I do not have to support a family with this gig, but I don't want to make $3/hour either, this is why I am ruled out doing breads for ex. Thanks so much for any help or ideas!

Arjon's picture

Doing so is a basic element of market research. Note that this doesn't mean asking them to brainstorm with you, But neither does it necessarily mean you must have your product line and pricing set in stone before talking with anyone. You do need to have enough definition in your mind of what you're willing to offer and in what price ballpark so as to waste as little of your time and theirs as possible. One possible middle ground is to come up with a small selection of priced items plus a list of others to inquire about their interest. 

Also, be aware that market research is as much art as science. There's no single way to go about it that's best in every situation. 

drogon's picture

I an ocean away from you but I am looking at doing something similar - (and already doing something slightly similar to a degree in that I sell bread and cakes to shops)

So the last time I went looking for a new shop, I visited it first, then went & spoke to the manager - took with me information on ingredients and photos of my wares. Then when they were interested I'd take along real samples and see how it went from there.

Be as prepared as possible - take along wholesale prices, delivery options and so on. Advise about the suitability of freezing and defrost procedure. You can probably do the portfolio bakes in your home kitchen as you're not selling them, but make sure the commercial kitchens ovens work the same way - and you probably already know that commercial microwaves are way more powerful than domestic ones too, so might need to take this into account if they're ping defrosted, heated...

It's hard though - I guess Sisco is a wholesaler - so beating their prices? Going to be really hard, so you'll need to push the hand-crafted angle and hope they might be willing to pay a premium for it. e.g. 2 of the shops I supply bread to get bread from a local(ish) big supplier and just take my speciality sourdough breads once a week...

Also I'd suggest baking to local tastes - it's great liking C. European deserts, but the locals might want something sweeter... I'd break them in gently.

Good luck with it all.


Ps. Hm. quark in a (baked?) cheesecake? I normally use soured cream... Might give it a go though!

Helena's picture

Thank you for the tips, both very helpful to me I will refer back to them and keep you posted as I go along. No I didn't realize that the microwaves were a lot more powerful there, makes sense. The pricing thing will be difficult if I try to match Sysco. But if you are not baking from pre-mixes and canned fruits and fake eggs, they know this is a completely different product. Will they pay more per cheesecake, not sure yet!

Try quark/farmer's cheese instead of cream cheese or sour cream and see if you like it, it's lighter and drier but better to my taste. Look up German Kaesekuchen on-line, if you have time.

Have a great rest of the week.