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Meet Sarah Tafur of Sarahlu Confections in Miami Shores

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Tafur.

Sarah, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, only 25 years ago. I come from a big loving and very special family with very supportive parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, two siblings, lots of cousins and lots of friends who eventually became part of our clan. My great grandfather was a chef, my grandma made the best food in the world, my aunt is a chef, my brother is a chef, my cousin is a pastry chef, and I am now a pastry chef. So yes, I had a very delicious upbringing!

As a kid, I used to spend my afternoons at the restaurant where my aunt was the chef. There I would make cookies, help out in the pastry area (mostly just eating everything) but eventually, as I grew older, I started taking the culinary world a bit more seriously. I think I decided to grow into the sweet side because I didn’t want to deal with the raw animals, heat, etc. I also enjoyed the precision and art that the pastry world involved. As a teenager, I started selling brownies, cookies, cheesecake and all sorts of goodies to friends and family. I wanted to learn more and become a professional so I started taking pastry courses once a month.

As time passed, I realized that I wanted this to become my career, so I started working at a restaurant to get more experience. After that, I told my brother who was working in NYC at the time that I wanted to be a pastry chef and he said: “Well if you think that’s what you REALLY want, why don’t you come stage for a couple of weeks in a real kitchen so you can see if this is truly what you want to do.” I think he was trying to discourage me or sort of saving me from this tough but wonderful career; to his surprise, after I did the stage, I was even more in love with it and I decided that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Long story short, I kept on working in different places in the Dominican Republic and also made desserts for my aunt’s catering company. It was a really good experience and I definitely learned a lot.

In 2014, I moved to Miami to take care of my grandma, who was sick at the time. Her situation didn’t get better, so she told me to apply to cook school and stay here. I wasn’t very convinced because my dream was to study in NYC but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time (and I’m so glad it happened that way!). As I was studying, I started to tell people that I made cakes and friends and family started to buy small desserts and cakes from me. I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything, given that I was going to college full time and also working full time at the W hotel.

In 2016 I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Baking and Pastry Associates Degree. It was an awesome experience and I was oh so ready to start working on my own thing! I stayed at the W Hotel a little more, had the most awesome mentors, Josh Gripper, Richard Vaughn, Jackie Marshall and I can definitely say that was one of the best times in my professional career. To the three of you and everyone else who I met and learned from (long list) THANK YOU!

After a while, I decided I wanted to work more on the cake world, so I went to the Fontainebleau Hotel and started working in the cake room. It was such an amazing experience to be part of such a big operation and learn such different techniques and production methods. All this time, while I had a full-time job, I was still making cakes from home and trying to start my business; it was not until 2018 that I could no longer fit all the orders in our apartment. That’s when I decided I wanted a commercial kitchen so I could take more orders and work from a more comfortable space.

At the time, the idea seemed a little crazy, given that I was only starting and obviously was scared of not making it. Thankfully I had the most loving and supporting husband by my side; my mother, my aunts and the whole team mentioned above (including my grandparents who are now in heaven). If it weren’t for them, Sarahlu Confections would not exist and I would not be writing this.

On June 2018, we found a spot in Miami Shores, September 2018 signed the lease, March 2019 opened our doors, and here we are! Everything I ever dreamed of, right there. The result of lots of effort, support and love, materialized into a bakery. So there it is! This is the story of someone who believes that everything can happen with the right amount of faith, determination, discipline, passion and love.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been easy at all. The main struggle has been to adjust the business during these hard/crazy COVID times. Everything is changing and having to do everything involved both in the operations side and managing side while dealing with a complete change in demand and market. It has been a real challenge.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sarahlu Confections – what should we know?
We are a confectionary studio specialized in wedding and custom cakes. Our specialty is making cakes that are both delicious and beautiful!

I would say I’m definitely proud of having the ability to adapt our business during these uncertain times. Originally we had imagined the studio to be more of a production kitchen with a meeting area designed for wedding tastings and cake consultations. Nowadays we offer a wide variety of ready to go cakes, ice cream cakes, small desserts, cookies, croissants, and much more.

I think that something that sets us apart from other bakeries is how we try to see our clients as if they were our family, and you can only give the best to your family, according to us. We try to truly listen to the customer and see how we can help to make their special occasion a day to remember.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think the most important part would be to stay humble and have faith that in the end, everything happens the way it needs to. To understand that talent is nothing without hard work and patience. To cherish each failure and turn it into a learning experience for the future.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Carolina Guzik

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