NAME Hilary Freeman
AGE Many candles
LOCATION South San Francisco, California
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Le Cordon Blue California Culinary Academy; Culinary Arts Associate Degree
COMPANY The Sugar Studio
Tell me a little bit about Sugar Studio & how you got started. The Sugar Studio really strives to teach fun and informative classes. Baking should really be fun in the end but it is a science, so it requires precision and good instruction. We really take pride in our small hands-on classes that allow for a great learning environment. As for getting started, I am fortunate to have very supportive friends who have really great ideas. One idea that I heard over and over was “you really should teach people how to bake” and while I love teaching and talking about dessert, I didn’t love the idea of doing it in my home. So I began the search for the perfect commercial kitchen and once that was located, the other pieces fell into place.
What was your first trip to Paris like? Filled with macarons & cafe au lait, I hope! How did it influence your career path? Paris really is a baker’s paradise. My first trip was so crazy delicious but it was hard to take it all in. My favorite trip was my last time there. I was armed with a huge must-do, must-taste list and I got it all done. I am that crazy person at the airport with bulging suitcases and a husband who is about to lose it as I repack to meet the weight limit and a carry-on full of French butter. I apologize in advance if we ever cross paths in an airport. I adore how culturally they elevate baking and pastry to a level unlike anyone else. I always say, “One trip to Paris and you will understand why the French really are so superior than the rest of us.”
In addition to party planning & catering, you also teach. What is it like to share your passion with others? Sharing really is the best part. I love that people are as obsessed as I am with sugar, flour and butter during a class. I think it is especially amazing to teach in the Bay Area because my students are so well-informed and on the cutting edge of all food trends.
What does a day in the life of Hilary Freeman look like? I wish I could say I sit around and eat macarons all day but that isn’t the case. My girls keep me insanely busy and the prep work for all the classes manages to take up all of my free time. I am also a bit of a neat freak so I clean my house top to bottom every day.
Working in the kitchen requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time. Do you have any tricks to stay comfortable over the course of a long day? Switch out your shoes halfway through your shift. This makes a huge difference.
How has having children influenced your business? I adore that my girls are so proud of me and the business. They love being a part of the process, as well – stamping boxes, folding towels, etc.
If you could share one pearl of wisdom with other mothers who also own a business, what would it be? Don’t quit, even on the worst day when your kids have fevers and are crying for you not to leave. The time management and balance does get better and easier. Just not in the beginning, so don’t give up before year two. Also, allow yourself long breaks, if needed. There is no point in having your own business if you can’t enjoy the perks of being your own boss.
Has there been a particular moment where you felt most accomplished in your career? Seeing others succeed is always the best accomplishment. One of my first students felt inspired to attend culinary school and just graduated. It is really inspiring to motivate others to follow their baking dreams.
When you’re not baking, planning or teaching, what do you do? I am a bit of a shopper, so Anthropologie is usually a weekly trip but my other favorite activity is to cook fabulous dinners for my husband, put the kids to bed and open a bottle of wine.
Guilty pleasure? Dipping pretzels into salted caramel buttercream; eating an entire cake layer by myself for lunch – you know, the usual pastry chef problems.
Cake or pie? Cake always and forever. Is that really even a question?
Song that will put you in a great mood every time? Urgh, I am so not musical but what I lack in that department I make up for in the kitchen.
Morning or night? Night. I come alive at 5pm. Kind of a problem because I have a lot to accomplish prior to that time of day.
Last book you read? Blood, Bones and Butter. Go figure, a chef’s autobiography. #bakingnerd
Photograph of Hilary: Manus Chau | Party Photographs: Gus Dizon