Cesi Aguilar has seen highs and lows – as pastry chef at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Inn at Spanish Bay to her current role as Food Service Coordinator at the homeless facility A Gathering for Women.
She also runs a Seaside-based home business, Cupcake by the Sea. She started the business five years ago and has developed a devoted customer base, ironically more for custom cakes, pies and cookies than cupcakes.
Although surrounded by sweets now, Aguilar says “I was a bad kid in high school.”
Weekly: So from bad kid to pastry chef?
Aguilar: Baking really helped me. I had anger issues and it’s like therapy.
How do you fight temptation when you’re surrounded by cake?
It takes a lot of discipline for me not to eat what I make. People say “You’re a chef? But you’re not fat.”
I bet your son is happy.
Yeah – and his classroom, too. He’s always coming home with orders.
How difficult is it to start a home business?
If you don’t have proper equipment, it’s hard. But I’ve invested a lot. My garage is my bake shop. And it’s really, really hard to get people to support you. But once your product is out there – a lot of my clients are now regulars. I feel like I’m a part of their family.
You must work long hours.
I actually get to choose my hours, so my business is based on my schedule. I’m able to travel with my son. It took awhile, but I found that balance.
In your career you’ve served the rich and the poor.
I never thought I’d be working with homeless women. I can go from chef to bodyguard really quick. You have to be strong emotionally. When they bring in homeless children – I wish I could take them all home.