WESTFIELD – At a young age, Christine Gustafson discovered that simple ingredients such as butter, sugar and flour could be turned into something magical.
“I started to dabble in baking cakes and cookies at a young age with the help from my mother,” she said. “Anytime I could, I would recruit neighborhood friends to bake cakes with me. I found that I enjoyed creating sweet treats and sharing them with my family and friends.”
She started with the basics and branched out into different desserts, flavors and decorating everything.
“As I got older, I was always experimenting with new ideas and trying to create beautiful creations. I don’t remember when I started to really like baking but when I was in my 20’s I found that baking was fun and relaxing for me,” she said.
She took classes at the Connecticut Culinary Institute about 18 years ago then began making wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and other specialty cakes. When family and her fulltime job kept her too busy to bake for others, she became “the dessert lady” at gatherings of family and friends. And, she has an annual cookie swap party where she often bakes 1,000 cookies in dozens of varieties.
Gustafson, a fulltime Westfield emergency telecommunications dispatcher, has been baking for fun while dreaming of owning a bakery one day. She is starting 2021 one step closer to her dream of a brick-and-mortar bakery with her home-based Chrissy G’s Bakery.
Gustafson received her permit last month and is taking orders for cakes, cannoli, cupcakes and more.
“I started to pick up baking orders for others in April of this year when a friend of my husband asked if anybody knew of a place to get baked goods,” she said. “That is when my husband offered my services and orders started to come in. Friends and family were looking for places to get cakes and other baked goods since a lot of places in this area were closed due to COVID. I was taking in orders and requests for different types of cakes — German Chocolate, Jelly Rolls, Strawberry Cake, Carrot Cake – and more. Since then, I have had a steady flow of orders for birthdays, holidays or ‘just because’ days.”
Gustafson decided to make it official and applied for the necessary licenses to start her business, a dream nearly two decades in the making.
“I’ve wanted to do this professionally for the past 18 years,” she said. “At the time, though, I was not able to leave my fulltime job to pursue my dreams due to starting a family and everything else that life throws at you. Now that I have been at my current job for 20 years, I find that I am ready to go after my dream and start a new chapter in my life . . . do something that I have always wanted to do.”
While Gustafson is busy with her fulltime job, family and now her home bakery business, her goal is to have a storefront fulltime where she can make and sell her favorite dessert – cheesecake.
Until then, the public can get their sweet tooth satisfied by ordering through Gustafson’s Facebook page, emailing [email protected] or calling/texting 413-250-0255.
Gustafson said there is a shortage of bakeries in the Westfield area where customers can get high quality, freshly baked, specialty cakes and pastries.
“Chrissy G’s Bakery will cater to all of its customers by providing each customer a product that suits their needs and desires,” she said. “Because Westfield, and the surrounding area, have a shortage of bakeries that specialize in specialty cakes and pastries, and as families become busy in everyday life and activities, there is a higher demand for excellent quality desserts that will wow the consumer and make the customer’s life much easier and stress free.”
The menu includes a variety of specialty cakes ranging from $25 – $35, such as cannoli cake, German chocolate cake, carrot cake, red velvet and more. She also offers a standard vanilla, chocolate, marble or strawberry cake with several filling and icing options for $25. Chrissy G’s has both standard and specialty cupcakes by the dozen, puff pastries, mini eclairs and mini cannoli. Gustafson said she may be able to accommodate special requests, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Gustafson said she hopes to open a shop in Westfield this year, making 2021 the sweetest year ever.