We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Andranian Sherry and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christine, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I spent my twenties and early thirties working at a small hedge fund. It was a passion, but it was an incredibly good way to pay my bills. I enjoyed the work but several facets of Wall Street work weighed me (and my conscience) down. Around the time that my twin daughters were born the business I’d spent 11 years building ended up shrinking to a point that was no longer sustainable and I found myself making the complex choice to retire a bit earlier than I’d hoped, turning my attention and energy towards raising my kids.

Fast forward a few years and I was planning and catering preschool kid parties with all the precision and vigor of an equity analyst. My kids’ friends’ family’s became my clients and I suddenly found myself running a catering and meal delivery company. It wasn’t so much a conscious or planned strategy, but food and the food service industry had always been where my heart and soul felt best. From my earliest memories of playing “restaurant” at my aunt and uncle’s cabin in the forests outside of Frankfurt Germany to the blueberry muffins I made nearly every weekend in high school and the bake sales I turned into Gluten-paloozas during my girls’ preschool years, I was at home, happy, and pretty much addicted to working with food. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to (and I didn’t want to).

When we moved to the South Bay for better public schools I spent most of the first few years working at my girls’ schools. I kept some clients from the West LA area, but driving back and forth was getting harder and I needed the extra time at home — the kids were getting older and homework was. becoming a full body experience. As time went on I found myself missing the food business and hosting more and more parties at my house. Simultaneously I began pursing long held interests like learning to make naturally leavened European style breads, the kind I remembered from my childhood summers spent in Germany.

I’ve always loved sharing food, breaking bread (in both literal and figurative ways) with the community around me and as my skills and technique improved, so did the volume I was producing. I shared loaves with friends, neighbors, the local fire station. Soon, local interest and demand developed and I was supplying bread on the regular. I formalized my business, including applying for and getting my LA County Dept of Public Health permit and began to solicit wholesale accounts.

These days I split the business 25/75 wholesale/direct to consumer. I love the personal connections I have with my client families. Sharing in their celebrations and life moments is what makes me get up (at 4am). I love hearing feedback from them (even the negative stuff — it’s how I fine tune and grow). It feels dismissive to say this business fell into my lap, but I have a hard time explaining it otherwise. I feel so grateful to be asked into my clients’ homes and lives again and again and I know I wouldn’t be as happy doing anything else. Even at 4am. 🙂

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe that food is art. Art is creating something that wasn’t there before, or changing what is into something unique and that can evoke feelings/reactions. The bread I bake is the culmination of my 47 years on this planet and how I focus myself and my existence. It’s how I show my daughters what is important to me. It’s how I express love for those around me. My baked items are how I connect and feel rooted. Madeline & Kae is how I interact with the world — it’s my purpose and I am incredibly passionate about it. The job certainly isn’t easy. I work alone, the hours are long, and the labor is physically depleting. I’ve had to give up quite a lot of other interests and my family has to make sacrifices alongside me. The bread makes up for a lot of that, but mostly we are all in it for the way it keeps me grounded and all of us tethered to our neighbors, family, friends, and the broader community we live in. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that persistence pays off. If you keep going, you’ll keep growing.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A week long trip!?!?! I haven’t had that much free time around here for that long of a stretch in a very long time so it’s hard to imagine…. but here goes:

Breakfast at home, for sure. M&K is a cottage operation so all the best baked morning goods are here. No need to go anywhere yet…..

Following breakfast I suppose we’d head out on an adventure. One day I’d take them to Del Cerro (hiking trails near my home), definitely spend a couple days at the beaches all around the South Bay (RAT is our family favorite), and we would include at least one of two days to spend up in our old stomping grounds of Santa Monica. Up there I’d suggest …. wait for it….. hiking. The Santa Monica mountains have lots of beautiful trails that my dog, kids, husband and I know really well. I’d make sure we went on a Wednesday morning so we could hit the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. And while we were up that way I’d insist on visiting either Huckleberry Cafe, Milo & Olive, or Gjusta to grab some to go items for a picnic lunch. If we could make it up there on a Sunday in the spring or summer months I’d for sure take that picnic to the polo fields at Will Rogers State Park and watch a thundering polo match.

Back down my way I’d also plan to do a local brewery crawl, hitting up King Harbor Brewing, Brouwerij West, Common Space, and finish up with the huge interesting selection at Select Beer Tap Room & Store in Redondo.

And for dinner we’d probably head back to my place because while professionally I’m a pastry chef/baker, I also love experimenting with my farmer’s market finds in all sorts of savory applications. It’s hard to keep me out of the kitchen for long.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all, I have to shout out to Clemence de Lutz Gossett at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. At some point quite a few years ago someone sent me a link to Clemence’s “Business of Food” class and from the minute I walked into her school kitchen I knew this was an extraordinary experience. Over the years Clemence has become a mentor to me and I absolutely could not do what I do without her support and guidance. She’s a spectacular human and incredibly hard working and every class I ever took at the school (including artisan bread baking and her Pro Pastry Chef series!) has nurtured and fed me along my food industry journey.

Second, Solange Comer, of Cultured Slice (and the soon to come Cultured Slice Sandwich Shop, both in Hermosa Beach) has been an incredible supporter and invaluable asset in navigating the business waters of the South Bay. She has an innate sense for rising talent and generously shares her experience, knowledge, and acumen. I feel exceptionally privileged to have been invited to Pop Up on her back patio over the past several months.

Finally, my dad gets the biggest shoutout of all. He’s the heart and soul of me and he’s the motivation behind all that I do. My immigrant parents were incredibly hard workers who never sat still. They taught me so much about sacrifice and the importance of disciplined effort. Having lost my mom earlier this year, he’s become much more involved in my day to day business and I see him, and his unyielding entrepreneurial spirit being the bridge to the future of Madeline & Kae General Goods.

Website: www.madelineandkae.com

Instagram: @madelineandka

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