Random Acts of Baking

Showing Thanks Through Random Acts Of Baking

Sometimes it’s best just to do what you can do

Gigi Taylor found herself facing an unfamiliar mixture of emotions this spring, as her youngest son Jack was finishing his high school career and getting ready to leave for college. So, inspired by the care and attention he’d received from the teachers and staff at the San Francisco Waldorf High School, she took it upon herself to find a way to say thanks.

“I was thinking about how I felt about my last child being in his last year of high school and what that was going to feel like for me, having been through the process before,” Taylor told Good Turns recently. “And then just how grateful I was, Ken [her husband] was, we were as a family, how much Jack had grown. And the people we met, the families and staff and friends.”

“When you get to be a certain age you know what’s coming,” Taylor says. “You’re going to be sad, and there’s going to be this transition. And I thought, What small gestures could I do to show people how much I appreciated what they had done and who they were? I just wanted it to be these mindful, thoughtful gestures, so that at the end of the school year I wasn’t running around trying to say goodbye to everybody. I wanted everyone to really get the message and understand how much we really did appreciate their hard work and their dedication, and really their group commitment and how we felt about it.”

At first, the whole idea struck her as grandiose, and a bit overwhelming. “But then I just thought, What could I do? And then it went from being overwhelming to being really simple.”

“It’s just scones! Doesn’t anybody do anything kind for anybody anymore?”

A classically trained chef who had apprenticed in a pastry kitchen, Taylor often works with her husband on the catering service at his South San Francisco shop, The Wine Vault. “I can’t write a check to build the school’s new gym, but I can certainly bake scones and muffins and things,” she figured. “For me it’s very easy, and it actually makes me feel happy.”

So, every couple of months starting in late summer, Taylor did just that, bringing faculty and staff a variety of baked goods at teacher work days, school assemblies, and other events. The first time she did it, “the response was so overwhelming,” Taylor recalls. “I dropped them off in the morning and it was not a big deal for me, but the reaction was more than I ever really expected. I was a little bit embarrassed. Teachers and staff would come up to me in the parking lot or send me these incredibly heartfelt emails. I thought, it’s just scones! Doesn’t anybody do anything kind for anybody anymore?” (Good Turns had a chance to sample Taylor’s baking during the research for this post, and we can assert with confidence that her scones and other baked foods are anything but mundane. “Exceptional” is one word that comes to mind.)

“Ken and I were both really taken aback at our time at Waldorf because Waldorf is so hands-on, but so few people cook, and so few people bake,” Taylor says. “It’s a lost art, but it’s the way that we work and the way that we express ourselves, and it’s what we can do. I was really overwhelmed at how much people wanted to talk to me about food. Because to me, it’s just food. We all eat. For us, it’s what we can contribute to the community. It’s what we can do.”

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Yasuhiro Chatani)

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