Cloquet bakery delivers sweets to the SenatorMichael Casey never dreamed when he opened Casey’s Gourmet Bake Shoppe in Cloquet a year and a half ago that his culinary artistry would one day reach the nation’s Capitol.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Michael Casey never dreamed when he opened Casey’s Gourmet Bake Shoppe in Cloquet a year and a half ago that his culinary artistry would one day reach the nation’s Capitol.
But this week, by special request of Senator Amy Klobuchar, Casey packaged up some of his finest cinnamon rolls, buttermilk/wild blueberry muffins, buttermilk/cranberry/orange muffins and almond and raspberry-chocolate kringle and shipped it off to Washington, D.C. Klobuchar planned to serve the pastries during her weekly “Minnesota Morning” open house Thursday, held weekly at her office when the Senate is in session for all Minnesotans who are visiting Washington, D.C.
Casey said he was first approached by Klobuchar’s regional outreach director, Jerry Fallos, in mid-August.
“He stopped by one day and checked us out,” said Casey. “He explained the Senator likes to promote and help out small businesses around the state of Minnesota.”
Shortly thereafter, Casey was contacted by Klobuchar’s office and learned she would be stopping by the bakery in person when she was in town on Sept. 2 for the Cloquet Labor Day celebration.
“She was on her way to the parade when she popped in for a treat,” related Casey. “She ordered an almond kringle and split it with one of two of her entourage. Senator Klobuchar took one bite and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is good!’ – and it was gone before they got out the door!”
Casey said he very much appreciated that Klobuchar made the effort to stop by, and he learned she often visits bakeries around the state, “especially ones who do things the old fashioned way,” he said.
Casey’s Gourmet Bakery certainly qualifies. Though baking first started out as a hobby for Casey, it wasn’t long before he started making his own vanilla and developing his own recipes. His neighbors encouraged him to start selling his baked goods, but he didn’t do much of it until he got laid off from his job.
“I knew I had to do something,” he said, “and I wanted to come back home to Cloquet because all my relatives are still around here.”
Casey decided to draw on his love of baking, and the early taste of culinary training he’d had at Medina Country Club in Illinois when he was in high school, to start up his own bakery in Cloquet. Eventually, he found space at 6 14th St. N., built a kitchen in the space there, passed all the required training and inspections and opened his bakery. He started out with pastries and doughnuts and recently expanded into breads as well, including braided cardamom bread, dark rye and cranberry cinnamon cracked wheat.
“It’s great to have the job you love and be able to bring your own touch of craftsmanship to it,” Casey commented.
He said he is continually developing new recipes — it took him three months to develop the perfect key lime cookies — and draws upon old family recipes from his mom and grandmother as well.
“It’s all homemade by hand, so you get what you pay for,” Casey said.
He was flattered when he got the word from Senator Klobuchar’s office that she wanted to order enough pastries from Casey’s Gourmet Bake Shoppe to serve approximately 50 people at her weekly “Minnesota Morning” open house this week. Arrangements were made for United Parcel Service to swing by the bakery on Tuesday for the baked goods. Casey said the Senator’s office promised to take photos at the event and pass them along to him at a later time. He added they indicated they may put in an order with him again at some future date, which he said he will be only too glad to accommodate.
“This is our chance to shine!” he said.