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the baker

Isabel Burlingham

The kitchen has always been the heart of my home. It’s where we make food to nourish our bodies, and where we tell stories that nourish our souls. 

My Mormor (grandmother) only talked about her life in Norway in the kitchen in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The women of my family gathered to make our traditional holiday cookies, sharing stories over cups of tea and floured hands. I fell in love with the cozy, warm, sweet-smelling air.

From baking soda volcanoes (sorry mom!) to stress-baked brownies, from intricate cakes to simple drop-cookies, the kitchen quickly became my sanctuary, my place of learning. 

My previous career was in Chemistry, which really just means I’m good at analyzing materials to understand them, and mixing others to make something new. Being a baker isn’t all that different, it’s just better. Now I get to taste, touch, feel, and smell my materials. 

As the daughter of two artists, I have a large appreciation for details and nuance. I look for that hand-crafted quality - the “personal touch.” I want everything I make to be exquisite, wholesome, and full of love. Through parchment I get to share my family’s stories with others, and learn their stories in return.

I love to travel the world, taking in the history of a place through its art, architecture, and food. My perfect day of exploration starts with a coffee and a fresh pastry at a local’s favorite cafe where I can watch and listen to the people around me.

Since I moved to Troy in 2016, my favorite routine has been going to the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market every Saturday morning. The ritual of buying a coffee, selecting a pastry for breakfast, and talking with the different vendors and friends that I meet at the market, is the highlight of my week. 

Growing up I did not know many other people of Scandinavian descent; certainly no one  outside of my family made any of the same cookies during the holidays. Since becoming a vendor at the market I have met many people who had a distant relative from Scandinavia, and others who had traveled there. The most rewarding moments for me have been when their eyes light up and say, “Oh this tastes just like my grandmother’s!” I live for that genuine expression of joy, connection, and excitement.

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