At Uppercrust, we work as hard at installing a staff of high quality as we do a program of foods and wines of hiqh quality. We invite you to learn more about our unique group of talented and thoughtful artisans and presenters of our products, all of whom have proven good palates and passions for all things delicious. Not surprisingly, many are "supertasters."
Jackie - Patronne (Artistic Director)
Jackie's obsessions with deliciousness and her urge to try to create foods of exceptional taste drove her to start Uppercrust Productions in 1981. Thirty-two years later, she continues to direct and oversee and evolve the entire operation. Childhood culinary experiences, extensive travels and language studies as an adult, and readings in history, psychology, and literature have made a huge impact on the way she views things culinary. At heart she seems to be a sauciere. Experimentation with tastes and textures and literary and artistic treatments of them are her passion. The notion of theatre too as an interesting facet of food production has always been intriguing, as has the challenge of taking on products that are difficult. Deliciousness, luxurious texture, and beauty are forever paramount in her mind. The goal has never been to dazzle and distract the eye and mind with unconventional methods or combinations of ingredients, or on the other hand to slavishly obey "authentic" recipes, and certainly never to - what to her would be cheating - using less costly, inferior, not so delicious materials. Uppercrust could be said to stand for sheer reverence for deliciousness, however it can be generated.
Pamela - Chef de Bureau (Office Manager)
Pamy is our mathematical wizard. In all her schooling she took prizes and received honors in everything. She does bank reconciliations like lightning to the penny, each time. She is an unparalleled bookkeeper. Prior to working with us at Uppercrust she worked for many years in banking. Now when she is not doing office work and managing all our bill payments, or selling or making all manner of toothsome savoury spreads and mousses for us or comforting us when one of us is discouraged, she is out on the streets running 7-8 miles every day (very find runner). But wait - there's more. The persistence and speed she applies to everything she does in life and her fine and subtle sense of humor - well they just make her irreplaceable. Pamy and Jackie are sisters.
John - Chef de Cuisine (Kitchen Manager & Lead Bread Baker)
After graduating from UF with a Bachelor's degree in Criminology, John independently studied religion and philosophy before beginning a career as a baker. We were fortunate to find him. He has proven to be a natural at working with all manner of yeast products with all their mysteries and inherent difficulties. His repertoire of yeast breads is now quite broad as is his new, widened range of responsibilities, all of which he predictably does well. And, curiously, given his curiosity about the way yeasts work perhaps and his discerning palate, he has become fairly knowledgeable about wines as well. Despite his obvious abilities, he remains unpretentious. He is thoughtful and caring and takes good care of us all in the kitchen. He is very calm. A good leader.
Ashton Nicole - Directrice de Ventes (Sales Manager)
Ashton is passionate about so many things - theater, costume design, dance, curious music of many sorts. She just exudes joie de vivre. Everything she does seems to be just delicious or smashingly beautiful or gracious and elegant. Chocolate-butterscotch chip cookies or gift baskets or wine-tastings or managing, ...... And her palate is just as marvelous. Her assessments of wines is spot-on. She conducts our complementary Saturday tastings and can be counted on for good advice with respect to wine choices and pairings. An amazing individual - kind, independent with lots of initiative (a true self-starter), talented, bright, conscientious, hard-working, well-traveled, and mature beyond her years.
Alex - Vendeur
Alex graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree with studies in international food and resource economics. He is interested in luxury food marketing, trade, accounting, and management. He studied in Paris, Toulouse, and then interned on two vineyards in Blaye, in Bordeaux. He is therefore beautifully suited to work with us. He works in sales, and does many additional things, as conducting tastings of our luxury foods and wines. He is bright, kind, gracious, knowledgeable, unflappable, and of course he has a good palate. He is surely on his way to becoming a good sommelier. What a wonderful addition to our family.
Anna - Patissiere (Pastry Chef)
Anna has her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her honors include the Dean's list, cum laude designation, and membership in the Historic Preservation Honor Society. She has worked as a preservation field surveyor as well as a freelance wedding photographer. It is this wonderful eye that is now at work behind all her pastry creations with us. She is really good. And another natural. Just gifted. And a dream of a person.
Barbara - Vendeuse (Seller)
Barbara has an interesting background. She did some growing up in Germany just outside of Berlin. She is currently studying at the University of Florida. Her field is history. She has a particular interest in memory of Nazism and of other totalitarian dictatorships. Last year she did extensive interviewing of people in villages near Berlin, culling personal information that helps to further illuminate and flesh out what is known of the period of Nazism and World War II. She has studied in Beijing and has traveled widely (Mongolia, Albania, Colombia, ..) She is also involved in the non-profit organization "Children Beyond our Borders" and has made two visits in that regard to Colombia. She is very kind, thoughtful, bright, and considerate. An amazing person.
Courtney - Boulangere (Baker)
Courtney has her Bachelor of Music from Berry College. She studied abroad in Sevilla and traveled extensively throughout Europe and most recently India. She is a pianist and has an interest in linguistics and Spanish. For us she is additionally gifted in baking. Everything she does in the kitchen is done naturally masterfully. She is quick, really good, conscientious - just a star. A natural.
Gretl - Boulangere (Croissant Baker)
Gretl graduated magnum cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston University with specialization in health education and fitness. She continued her studies in graduate school at Boston University in the field of Public Health and Health Education. Since then she has done many, many things, including teaching (K-12, college students, adults, and seniors), performing as a personal trainer, training trainers, serving as director of many organizations and centers located all over the Northeast, working in advertising and sales, just to name a few. Recently she abandoned all to care for her ailing father (now deceased), the eminent UF Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Otto von Mering, famous to many in Gainesville and to us at Uppercrust. Gretl is raising two amazing children. Lucky for us, she comes to us with all those rich experiences. She does many things with us, from working like a whirlwind at sales to doing comprehensive baking of all our most delicate products. She runs the pastry oven from very early in the morning and has a major hand in making all manner of croissants and French roses and challah tresses, and more. She is a treasure. Capable, bright, funny !
Jenn - Pâtissière (Pastry Chef)
Jenn has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida. Her specific area of study was art history. She is widely traveled and fluent in French and Spanish. She has experience in catering and event planning. She has long loved baking along with other artistic activities, like knitting and working with stained glass creations ("Patina") in our store, they are so good. She is working on a series of glasses that depict in slightly abstract ways some of our bakery products. Her knitting projects are not to be believed, they are so intricate and sophisticated. But what is most interesting is that she has a long history of just taking up doing whatever she loves and figuring out how to do it well - all with no guidance. She has done this with her pastry work for us. She has worked on the technique for brioches - something we wanted to get back into our repertoire again. The brioches are just delicious. And her croissant work is superb (no mean feat). A marvelous artist. Taste her brioches and see what we mean. Another "supertaster".
Kyle - Vendeur (Seller)
Kyle is studying Psychology and Criminology at the University of Florida. He speaks conversational Spanish and has traveled to various Spanish-speaking countries. He comes to UF having been tapped for membership in many honor societies. Our Kyle has a great sense of humor and makes everyone smile. Uppercrust is very proud to have him represent us. He's kind, gracious, mature, and very interesting. Another star. Everyone loves Kyle.
Lauren - Vendeuse (Seller)
Lauren earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Southern Mississippi, then a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from Clemson University and then another Master of Arts degree in Children's Literature from Simmons College. She is published and has been a writing tutor, a college instructor and guest lecturer in writing, literature, and English. Now she is pursuing a PhD in Children's Literature at the University of Florida. We are so happy to have her with us. She is gentle, very bright, kind, elegant, articulate, and savvy.
Lupe - Cuisinère (Bistrot Chef)
Lupe is another dream of a person, but in her own unique way. She is perceptive and anticipative of the needs of others. Very kind, very dear. She grew up in Mexico and has traveled the world widely. Her experience and travels and heritage certainly come through in the bistrot dishes she prepares and presents at Uppercrust, but what accounts most for the high quality of her dishes and her work in general is her good palate and her ability to bring delicious elements into beautiful balance. It's her palate that makes her 30-year experience of owning and running a wonderfully successful European restaurant with her amazing husband Elmo - unnecessary ! She is intrinsically good. Very special lady, our Lupe.
Marie - Vendeuse (Seller)
Marie is working on her Associate of Arts degree at Santa Fe College. Her major fields of study are printmaking and painting. She likes cooking and holding impromptu soirees. We love her. She's intriguing. She has an infectious personality. Just seeing how she twines her hair every day in the most interesting way and differently every day gives a good hint of her originality and sense of fun and whimsy. She is elegant and articulate.
Matthew - Boulanger (Baker)
Matthew earned his Bachelor of Science degree in English Education from Bob Jones University and a Master of Arts degree in Literature from Clemson University. In Charleston and in Boston he worked in various restaurants as a cook, and in the culinary field he found his true niche. At Uppercrust he is now adding baking skills to his cooking skills, and he is good, so it's easy to see why he feels so at home in a kitchen. He does many things with us. He mixes French bread and croissant doughs, shapes breads, laminates tender milk doughs with butter, and makes all manner of croissants. He seems reserved but he has a good sense of humor. He is conscientious and talented. No question. Yet another natural. We are lucky to have him with us.
Sarah F - Vendeuse (Seller)
Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International/East Asian Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, earned a Master's degree in Building Construction at the University of Florida,and is now working toward her PhD in that field at the University of Florida. Her current primary interest lies in sustainable international building design. She speaks Mandarin Chinese (she spent a period as intern in Beijing) and Spanish and has traveled widely (Australia, Canada, France, Italy, UK, China, Greece, ...) In-between various of these studies Sarah worked with us making all sorts of artistic things - croissants, gift baskets, breads, and pastries. Everything she has ever done reveals how gifted she is - everything. Beyond that she is grace and elegance personified. She has a good palate and a firm foundation in wines and conducts savvy wine tastings for us.
Sarah H - Vendeuse (Seller)
Sarah is double-majoring in Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Florida. She is avid and passionate about gardening and baking and cooking. She has a strong background in catering and hosting events. She is well traveled (France, Italy, and Greece), poised, capable, very bright, elegant, lovely. Certainly a star.
Virginia - Boulangère (Bread Baker)
Virginia has been studying anthropology at various institutions in Florida, namely Palm Beach State College, Tallahassee Community College where she earned an Associate of Arts degree, and now the University of Florida where she is making progress toward a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has been tapped for membership in a variety of honor societies and has been awarded various honors for her visual arts work by these institutions. She is very taken with photography and has used skills she has developed in her anthropology work. We were very surprised to find out that her family owns the Billecart-Salmon winery in Champagne. We worked very hard to find a source for this marvelous Brut and Brut Rose to bring it to our store. Their wines are not very well known in the states, though they are highly prized in France. Taillevent in Paris pours Billecart-Salmon as their prized aperitif, and now we have it, and we have part of the family that produces it! All this could be otherwise and we would still find everything to adore about Virginia!
As you can see, all are high achievers, all are talented, and all share a passion for food and wine, a drive for excellence in all they do, a good intellect, and a kind and thoughtful nature. A good sense of humor also abounds in them all. Almost everyone tests as a supertaster.