Slice of Life: The sweet life

What it’s like to be head pastry chef at Graham’s 318 Coffeehouse

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Sandy Bressner –
Jayni Wunderlich works in the pastry kitchen of Graham's 318 Coffeehouse in downtown Geneva.

GENEVA – Jayni Wunderlich carefully poured Belgian semi-sweet chocolate chips into a mixing bowl partially filled with fresh butter.

“When I was little, I always wanted to make the best chocolate chip cookies,” she said.

On this particular day, Wunderlich, the head pastry chef at Graham’s 318 Coffeehouse in downtown Geneva, at 318 S. Third St., was in the process of making brownies.

A picture window that separates the restaurant from the kitchen allows customers to watch her work.

“It reminds people that everything is made here,” Wunderlich said.

Her day begins at 5 a.m. as she begins preparing the cookies, croissants, muffins and other baked goods that the restaurant sells every day. She said the schedule suits her.

“I’m a morning person,” she said.”I think you have to be if you are doing something like this. By the time it’s 10 a.m., I’ve already made everything for breakfast and lunch.”

She juggles many hats. Wunderlich also is vice president at Graham’s Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, where she handles all the graphic design, branding and marketing for Graham’s.

Wunderlich is busier than usual these days now that the holidays are here.

Her whole family is busy, too. Her parents, Robert and Beckie Untiedt, started Graham’s Chocolates, Ltd. when Jayni was 3 years old.

Graham’s 318 Coffeehouse, which is part of the company, opened in 2005.

“My father said I always wanted to be in the kitchen and check things out,” Wunderlich said. “I would hand him graham crackers to make s’mores.”

To give the brownies even more of a chocolaty punch, Wunderlich adds unsweetened chocolate chips into the mix.

“It gives you an extra chocolaty flavor without making it too sweet,” she said.

After a few more steps, it’s time to pour the gooey mixture into an electric mix bowl, where Wunderlich adds yet more semi-sweet chocolate chips.

She said she believes a brownie should taste as chocolaty as it can.

After finishing the brownies, she checks on the other items she has made that morning, including a tray of cake pops.

“I like to find things that we can make out of leftover ingredients, like cake pops,” Wunderlich said. “I like to think out of the box.”

On Friday, Wunderlich and the rest of her family will be making candy canes from scratch during Geneva Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Walk in downtown Geneva.

People are invited to come to the Graham’s Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream store at 302 S. Third St. and watch the process.

The candy canes are given out to those who watch.

“It’s kind of a way to thank our customers,” Wunderlich said. “It’s cool to have the kids come and press their faces against the glass.”