An Interview with Gabe Muzzolini
You grew up in the family business. Can you tell us a bit about what that was like? What are a couple of your best bakery moments from those days?
Well, thankfully, I didn’t start working in the bakery until I was 15, but I feel like I learned so much and grew as a person many times over. It’s not always easy operating a small business, but being able to count on the people closest to you is such a blessing and it is something I did not take for granted. As cheesy as it may be, there are too many memories to choose from. That being said here are a few that spring to mind:
- Turning Il Secondo into a dance club (complete with a DJ and smoke machine) for a 40th birthday party.
- The Il Secondo expansion. I can’t even remember what it used to look like Making gingerbread houses during the holiday season with Tracey and Janet and my cousins.
- Our summer staff parties were always guaranteed to have one or two unforgettable moments, from dodgeball to karaoke.
What life lessons did you learn from your experience growing up in this environment?
My first job was being the delivery driver and dishwasher during my summer breaks. While I might not have fully appreciated it at the time, I think that subconsciously gave me a strong work ethic that I would use as I grew up and continue to use today. I don’t know if this is a lesson, but I came to fully appreciate the importance of family and those you keep close. Growing up in California, I didn’t get to spend much time with my family. Working in the bakery helped bring me back to where I was born and make up for lost time with my family.
Just so I don’t get too sappy I’ll give one more lesson, and this might be the most important one of all: Respect and appreciate service workers.
When did you come to Saskatoon to officially join the family business and why did you choose to do so?
I came (back) to Saskatoon when I was 21. I had just finished working in Scotland and didn’t really have any life plans. I reached out to Tracey and Blair to see if I could work at the bakery until I figured out what I wanted to do. I thought that would take a year, but fast forward 8 years and I think I may have figured that out.
You wore a unique hat in this company. Can you share with us a bit about your role?
I feel like I’ve had every job possible at the bakery, including creating some new ones. I was the delivery driver, dishwasher and then became a staff member at Il Secondo. After a while I became the manager and began to help out behind the scenes. During that time I helped run our dinner service and even tried creating a summertime concert series. I also began to run the Facebook and Instagram accounts and dip my toes in that realm. When we started taking marketing more seriously I stepped into that role full time and ran our social media profiles, alongside our newsletter and blog. Of course, during the holiday seasons, I would venture to the bakery and help shape buns with Tracey, Blair and Trent.
What was your greatest success over the years as a part of the family business?
I feel proud of my time as the manager of Il Secondo. I was by no means a perfect manager, but I feel like I brought a lot of positive changes and structure to the cafe. I do not have any expertise when it comes to baking or food, but I really tried to create an environment that supported and cared for employees. That being said, I am most proud of the Sweet Goodness program. All I want is to be able to help and support the communities around me and being able to use the bakery’s platform to do so is something I am grateful for. Being able to spread awareness about so many wonderful organizations in Saskatoon and speak to the people that make them had a huge impact on me.
You moved on from the company. What are you up to these days?
Right now I’m in school finishing up my degree (only took me 10 years). Well, at the moment I’m on a one year break to spend time with my partner as she finishes up her last two terms of school! Don’t be jealous, but I’m actually working for another bakery here! I tried leaving the baking world behind, yet it keeps finding a way to bring me back in…
Thanks for sharing your bakery stories and thoughts with us Gabe! You are dearly missed and we look forward to your next visit to Saskatoon!