This was supposed to be written as an interview, but about an hour after I got home my phone completely died, so I lost the recording. Super sad. Instead, I’m going to write about VG’s and my favorite things I remember from my talk with Katie this morning! VG’s is a family owned and operated bakery in Knoxville and Katie Gonzalez, who was just 13 when her parents opened the shop, is now the manager! Now that we work out at the same gym it’s been so much fun to get to talk to her for more than the usual 2 minutes when I’m buying a cinnamon roll or ginger cookie.
When I moved to Knoxville I was actually surprised to find less home-grown restaurants and bakeries than back home in CT. In the Northeast there are family-run bakeries and donut shops all over the place. Diners are another staple, as well as Italian delis. Not so much down here. VG’s always reminds me of the bakeries back home…you can walk in and get everything you need…from bread to cookies, cakes, and scones…and it is all SO good. They are a staple at the local farmers markets and take pride in making everything completely from scratch. They know every single thing that goes into what they make, and that includes a lot of heart.
Katie’s mom, VG, has always had a heart and purpose for baking. What started as taking some orders out of her kitchen quickly grew to a realization that the demand was much greater than what she could meet in her home. She and her husband took the leap and put everything into starting a little bakery of their own. Katie told me that a love for food and baking is still a driving motivation for her mom, but it was also cool to hear how that has expanded as VG’s has become a part of the community. A big motivating factor for the owners now is watching families grow as they keep the bakery a part of their lives. Kids who first walked into the bakery as toddlers are now walking in with their parents as college students. That’s the cool thing about local businesses and community…everyone becomes a part of each others’ lives. I can see how that is a big driving force to always move forward..
I really like how Katie is not only motivated by her own love of food and the bakery, but love of her family. She finds a great importance in keeping the bakery moving forward to continue supporting the dream started by her parents…making sure what they put everything into can then give back and support them when they hand over the reins.
When asked about moving forward, Katie spoke of the importance of maintaining quality and not losing what makes you special. So in a personal sense, make sure you don’t lose who you are in the quest for adventure and growth. VG’s itself is an adventure and Katie never tires of eating all the food there (I can’t blame her) but also recognizes the importance of having a freshness to adventure. For her, having adventures outside the bakery walls helps to re-energize her..
If Katie could hear from other adventurers she would be curious as to how they define adventure, especially when it intertwines with their work. It’s a good question. I think for all of us it’s important to find things outside of our job, even if that job itself is a dream. Maybe it provides perspective, maybe it reminds us how much we love what we do when we realize we are missing it. Or maybe we just need a little rest before going back to giving our all to the people we are serving.
.VG’s for sure serves all their people well! Check them out at the local farmers markets or at their Farragut location. Order a personalized cake to celebrate a new adventure you are embarking on! Fun fact: They have never dropped a cake order in the 18 years they have opened which I think is extremely impressive. Way to go guys!
Follow your passions. Serve your community. Always move forward.
Photos courtesy of VGs Bakery