a special feature with Michael Brochstein, inspiring grandfather with a passion for baking
A loving grandfather of 5, Michael Brochstein of New York City, hasn’t let his retirement slow him down. If anything, it’s giving him that extra boost to continue his lifelong passion of baking, all while juggling those terrific grandpa duties! Michael’s contagious enthusiasm and passion about life, and childhood memories of growing up in his own grandparent’s bakery, are important factors into what makes him a GRANDparent!
Grandparentslink: Okay Michael, let’s hear a little bit about yourself. What makes you tick (tock) and how is your passion fueled?
Michael: Well, let’s see here, I just turned 66 years old and have been married to my lovely bride Judy for 40 years – we have 2 daughters, and 5 grandchildren. I grew up on Long Island and would always spend my summers with my grandfather in the Catskills (NY) where he owned a quaint general store where they lived. The actual baking was done down the road from the retail bakery and store. The smells of freshly baked dough and cinnamon permeated my visits there, and filled my most cherished memories. I was surrounded by the most wonderful scents from a very early age. I guess that’s why baking is my passion today. It’s a part of my individuality. I still remember all those days helping customers as they chose their breads and desserts, and working the cash register at the early age of 7 years old.
Grandparentslink: Wow, we love that you grew up learning in your very own family bakery, how fun! With a successful business career behind and retirement upon you, what kind of gratification have you gotten from using this time to fulfill your passion of baking and pass this experience and love along to your own grandchildren?
Michael: It’s great! I just love it! Whenever my wife and I are on babysitting duty, I try and bring a thing or two with me to bake with the kids. I like to get them into the kitchen and give them each a roll of dough to work on. It just gets tough when the little one wants to do everything! I want my grandchildren to enjoy the experience of what we create together. Baking has always been my hobby, but since retirement I have really been able to indulge in the fun and relaxation of baking. Now I have all the time in the world to sit back, put on my sports show, and wait for my baking to be done.
Grandparentslink: Does your wife play a role in your baking with the grandkids as well?
Michael: My wife is actually a phenomenal cook! She and a partner owned a catering company and scheduled catering events where they would do the cooking and I would do the baking. You can’t even imagine how many chocolate chip cookies I’ve made in my lifetime. Besides an array of cookies, one of my signature pastries is called Rugelach, a tiny rolled confection of dough filled with nuts, cinnamon and chocolate or fruit. I feel as though I have perfected the most scrumptious recipe. I make dozens and dozens, which are mailed out each year to those who make it on my list!
Grandparentslink: What suggestion would you have for others who are not yet pursuing a passion or dream? Do you think it’s ever too late? Are we ever too old?
Michael: Of course it’s never too late! It just turned out that my passion has been a lifelong one. I always knew I loved baking, but now that I have the time I have really found it to be a relaxing happiness in my life. I love that I can share my passion with my grandchildren, and even if none of them end up having any interest in baking when they are older, at least I’ll know I was happy teaching them what I could. I hope they’ll remember all our messy, fun times together.
Grandparentslink: Can you share the chocolate chip recipe with us? What is your great baking tip?
Michael: NOPE, I can’t share my secret chocolate chip recipe with you- that’s why it’s a secret! But, here’s something I’m willing to share to improve everyone’s recipes for chocolate chip/chunk cookies: only use Nielsen-Massey vanilla and replace all chocolate with Callebaut Chocolate Chunks. There you have it, and if you can’t find the chocolate chunks, buy the block and make your own chunks. Start chopping – and be generous with the amount, no one ever complained about too many chunks! I think if at all possible, convection cooking is the best; but if not, no worries. Be sure to always bake on parchment paper.