Farmington sisters who have built a business threatened by COVID-19 hope to find some help in a national contest to name “The Greatest Baker”.
Farmington Hills resident Monica Ingles and her sister, Bertha Ferguson, grew up baking in their family’s home at 10 Mile and Orchard Lake Roads.
“We’re from a big, Italian family, cooking was something we just always did,” said Ingles, who attended Lanigan (formerly Larkshire) Elementary, East Middle, and Farmington High schools. “We didn’t have a lot of money to do very much. So we made our own fun, and we did a lot of baking.”
In November of 2005, the sisters opened Sorella’s Custom Cakes, working out of their house. Translated from Italian, “sorella” means “sisters”. Over the past 14 years, the bakery grew to employ seven people and moved into a space at 31236 Five Mile Rd. in Livonia.
When COVID-19 hit Michigan in March, the sisters closed down Sorella’s two days before Governor Gretchen Whitmer shuttered all but essential businesses.
“We could have stayed open, but we felt it would have been irresponsible to do so,” Ingles said. “We just cried. We might not open back up, we didn’t know.”
Then came the heartbreaking task of calling brides, parents, and others who had ordered cakes for weddings, first communions, and family celebrations of all kinds. “We cried with a lot of customers who had to postpone their big days.”
Sorella’s has reopened, but now relies heavily on “grab and go” items, weekly specials, and smaller orders. The pandemic has taken a toll, and the $10,000 Greatest Baker contest prize could very well save the business, Ingles said. The contest winner will also be featured in Bake from Scratch Magazine and receive a year’s supply of Stuffed Puffs chocolate-stuffed marshmallows (the company sponsors the competition).
Hosted by Food Network’s two-time Baking Champion, Jen Barney, the contest is a cause-based marketing campaign to benefit No Kid Hungry. In addition to voting online once each day, anyone can purchase “Hero Votes” at $1 each (minimum 10 votes), with proceeds supporting a charity that launches and improves programs that ensure all kids have access to healthy foods.
Cast your vote for Sorella’s Custom Bakery and learn more here: greatestbaker.com/2020/monica-ingles. You can also follow the bakery on Facebook and Instagram. Voting closes at 11 p.m. on Thursday, November 5.