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In Pursuit of a Passion
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Insights Magazine
Business Insights for Women
PNC INSIGHTS Magazine Spring/Summer 2014 Issue
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While Sandra Bullock captures attention onscreen, her sister Gesine gave up the glamour of Hollywood to open a bakery in northern Vermont - a story she tells in her new book.

There are two classic Hollywood stories we all know by heart: The rise from obscurity to fame and fortune, and the tragic fall into oblivion. But in My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time, Gesine Bullock-Prado turns her back on Hollywood to find a sweet ending.

When Bullock-Prado graduated from law school, she took on the oversight of the production company owned by her sister, actress Sandra Bullock. But unlike Sandra, Gesine - a self-described "socially retarded misanthrope" - felt uncomfortable in the glamorous Hollywood whirlwind. Besides, what she really wanted to do was bake.

So in 2005, Gesine and her husband, Ray, left the West Coast to open a pastry business in Montpelier, Vermont. Inspiration came from her German mother, Helga, who was a passionate amateur baker as well as a talented opera singer. When Helga died of colon cancer in 2000, Gesine began experimenting with her mother's recipe for mandelhoernchen, a traditional German almond cookie.

Though Bullock-Prado clearly feels she has found her calling, she makes no attempt to glamorize her craft. The book tracks one (very long) day in a baker's life, from the 3 a.m. wakeup through the 7 a.m. shop opening, a busy lunch and 3 p.m. tea time. Each chapter is punctuated by a sweet recipe. But what sets this book apart from similar tales of returning to the simple life are Bullock-Prado's acerbic observations and often hilarious insights.

At the story's heart, however, is the pursuit of a personal dream that began with a little girl's holiday memory and reached its fulfillment in a grown-up's brave choice to do what made her happiest. "I saw the devil at age 3 and he gave me chocolate," Bullock-Prado's story begins. "It changed my life forever."


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