As a young girl, Angie Jimenez often drew elaborate pictures of her dream bakery. Little did she know that dream would one day become a reality.
Though her first love was painting, Angie found her way into
the culinary world through a business venture with her mother and her aunt. Together, the ladies opened a home-style Latin restaurant in the heart of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
“We knew how to cook, but we didn’t know anything else about business,” shared Angie. Initially, Angie’s main role was more on the creative side, helping with decorations and ideas. But thanks to her go-getter spirit, Angie was able to purchase an old pizza shop and help turn the restaurant into a successful operation. She quickly developed her love for the culinary arts and hasn’t looked back since.
That restaurant is under new management—Angie sold it in 2004 before returning to her native Dominican Republic—but it still stands today. On the island, Angie maintained a catering business and eventually a bakery with many small plates or “bocaditos,” which are her specialty.
“I love appetizers—after you eat a good appetizer you don’t want to eat anything else,” she laughed. “There’s no party without an appetizer!”
Though she was already an established business woman, Angie wanted to take her culinary knowledge to the next level. After moving back to the United States to support her four children in their education, Angie completed a bakery and pastry course at Le Cordon Bleu in Boston. “I knew I was a chef, but I wanted something that made it official,” she said of the experience.
Angie considered opening a food truck (she humbly boasts about her pastelitos), and then her own catering company, but a greater opportunity arose.
“I don’t believe you should be a slave to your business,” said Angie of her business philosophy. “I’ve made mistakes, I’ve opened and closed businesses—you can never let yourself feel like you’ve lost.”
This mentality allowed her to take that new opportunity at a nonprofit charter school. Angie works with a youth trade program geared toward students who never finished high school, teaching them the skills necessary to embark on a culinary career. Thanks to her new flexible schedule, Bocaditos Culinary School was born.
Angie is a certified Wilton instructor (a renowned baking and supply company), and students can receive a certificate from the company upon completion of Angie’s courses—the kind of certificate that would make someone eligible for a cake-decorating job at a local supermarket. So while Angie’s classes might be an interesting hobby for some, they may even provide a job opportunity for others.
“There really aren’t any classes around here, and certainly not in Spanish,” said Angie of her courses. “These classes would be for those who already have a passion for baking, but maybe don’t have the skills to decorate a pretty cake for their family.”
A typical Bocaditos class will meet for eight hours over two Saturday mornings. Students will learn to decorate cakes in different styles, including fondant, butter cream, Italian meringue, and more. Angie helps students familiarize themselves with the basic techniques and methods, so they can eventually decorate their own cakes with original designs. In order to complete the program, students are expected to attend a series of three courses, 24 hours total.
In order for Angie to start spreading her culinary knowledge, she needs help from the FundLatinos community. Even the smallest donation will help her purchase a few remaining items necessary to meet city permit requirements, the most important being a grease-trapper for cleaner disposal and a sink with three basins for sanitation purposes.
Eventually, Angie hopes to dedicate herself full time to her classes. Says Angie of her endless determination: “I have faith in what I do, I like what I do, and I won’t stop until this becomes a reality.”