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Life & Work with Andrea Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Johnson.

Hi Andrea, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I started baking at a very young age growing up in Chico, CA. I would stand on a chair at the kitchen counter and read the back of a Nestle Toll House chocolate chip package, carefully adding each ingredients in the order of the directions. This was a regular after school activity for me, with my mom on the phone from work to help me through using the mixer. Back when kids could walk home alone. Soon I worked my way up to cupcakes and truffles but cookies were always my favorite. I would take my baked goods to school and share with anyone who would take a treat. It was then I realized how much I loved spreading joy through pastries.

This continued through my school years and into college. Next thing I knew, I was making custom orders for friend’s birthdays or backyard weddings. That was when I decided at age 20 to go to culinary school at the Art Institute in San Diego. I loved every minute of it. It also helped that my older brother was an established Chef at that point, so he gave me a few pointers to impress the teachers. He likes to say we both ended up in the culinary world out of survival of our parent’s cooking but I think it’s because we are also creative and competitive.

After culinary school, I moved to the Bay Area, where I stayed for the next ten years. I knew I wanted to learn as much as I could so I spent about two years at different pastry jobs. I worked as a chocolatier, ice cream, mom and pop restaurants with fresh breads, hotel and Michelin star fine dining. I always knew I wanted to open my own location, so in 2019 I moved to Sacramento with my husband to pursue my dreams of owning a cafe and bakery.

The name Plum Patrol came from a term my Dad used to motivate my brother and to pick up all the fallen plums off the ground when we were kids. He would appear out of nowhere with buckets in his hands yelling PLUM PATROl!!! I remember it was always on Saturday mornings when both golf and cartoons were on TV at the same time. After getting the saying tattooed on my arm as a remembrance to my Dad, I figured it would make for a good bakery name.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The food industry is the opposite of smooth road but it’s those bumps along the way that have taught me to lead with love, stay organized and keep costs in check.

One of my first struggles was learning to advertise myself/business. I’ve always been a good people person and comfortable standing at a booth for large events but managing social media was really hard emotionally for me. What I learned and my advise to others is get a therapist and find a way to ‘advertise’ while also being your true authentic self.

Another big struggle has been courage and perseverance. You really have to have a f*ck it. I can do this attitude when it comes to facing all of the challenges. I have a mantra that keeps me going, which is ‘This IS what I am doing’ ‘This is what I WANT to do’ ‘This is what I am GOING to do’. It reminds me that opening my own bakery has been a goal of mine for 15 years and that at the end of the day, there’s nowhere else I’d want to be, so I’ve got to keep moving forward.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Baking has always been an art form for me. I love the science and math of baking but having fun combining flavors and techniques opens up the creative side in me. Cake decorating was a big reason I got into baking and I love to create new recipes with natural gluten-free and lower sugar techniques.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I was very creative as a child, play dough, sewing, nail art, anything with a brush and colors. Organizing and being meticulous were habits of mine even from a young age, I could sit still for a long time on a craft project. I loved mixing different textures in food like oil and water or I would make different levels of soapy water dishes as if one was soup and another a drink until all the dirty dishes were set. My teachers described me as a natural leader because I liked helping others succeed and because I am a rule follower but I think that comes from being a Virgo. I was a total tomboy and played a lot of sports my whole life, everything from softball, cheerleading, field hockey, basketball, golfing and swimming, which is probably also where the leadership and team mentality comes from.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

A few done by me and the rest by the amazing Stacey Doyle (info below) Stacey Doyle Owner and Visual Storyteller Telling The Story Of You | Stacey Doyle Photography 9162829184 Sacramento CA

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