Since Tony Serrao grew up in a family-owned retail bakery, his path to baking began at a very young age. Serrao. a graduate of Class 172, realized AIB’s Baking Science and Technology (BS&T) course not only strengthened his skill set, but also helped him gain a sense of responsibility.
“I grew up in a retail bakery with almost an entitlement mentality,” said Serrao. “Going through this program, I got to know some of the students I was working with, and I realized that they were actually accountable for what they were going to bring back to the bakeries that sent them to AIB. It helped me gain a new sense of ownership and responsibility for my family’s bakery. I wanted to go home and make our business better for everyone.”
Oakmont Bakery, a Pittsburgh staple since 1988, was established by Marc and Susan Serrao as the town’s only full-service retail bakery. They began with 1,200 square feet, two children, and a big dream. As their bakery grew, so did their family, expanding to five children to share in the love of baking. Over time, their space has dramatically expanded to more than 12,500 square feet, making Oakmont Bakery one of the largest retail bakeries in America. Their dream of owning a successful business that will serve Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities for generations to come has been realized.
“When searching for a school to help me further my education in the baking industry, AIB seemed like a no brainer. My family has benefited from AIB’s proven track record for years,” said Serrao. “They offer hands-on programming, as well as teach business management and communication skills.”
The hands-on labs that BS&T offers helped Serrao with his troubleshooting skills. Now, when there is a problem or an issue with a formula, he relies on his BS&T knowledge to find a solution.
Today Serrao acts as general manager for the bakery. The real-life classroom experiences and the perspective he gained from BS&T has significantly impacted his career. “I am now able to look beyond production and understand the entire business. I use the knowledge I gained to help other employees become better at their jobs,” said Serrao. He recalls one of the unique BS&T experiences was to visit several production plants to see how their operations ran. “Now I plan trips for my managers and bakers to visit other bakeries to learn from how their bakeries work.”
BS&T provides relevant, current, and effective information about baking ingredients, processes, products, troubleshooting, operations, food safety, and product quality. Every lesson has real world application because every baking instructor has real world industry experience.