Having grown up in a family of bakers, an early-morning lifestyle does not phase JuRee Burgett. She has lived with it since childhood.
“I remember as a little girl having to work in the bakery in the summertime — my dad would get me up at 4 o’clock in the morning,” Burgett said.
Burgett now works for Kramer and Derby Dining Centers, and said she enjoys her job.
“[Students] love the way I bake at Kramer,” she said. “I was taught scratch bakery. K-State is one of the only universities that does scratch baking.”
It isn’t only Burgett’s baking that has caught attention, but also her style in decorating cakes. She said she has decorated all types of cakes from bikini body cakes to “The Love Boat.” Burgett said she had just been working at Kramer when word got out about her decorating skills and people began asking her if she could do different types of cakes.
“I did a bikini cake for a girl because she was having a lingerie party for her wedding shower,” she said. “When I handed the cake to her, she goes ‘Those boobs are so big!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess they are.'”
Sandy Webb, who works with Burgett at Kramer, said Burgett has decorated cakes for many special dinners, and co-workers enjoy seeing her in action.
“We all go in there and watch her decorate,” Webb said.
For Burgett, baking and decorating cakes is not only a passion but perhaps slightly hereditary.
“I’ve never done my history, but I’m sure the bakery has gone back a long ways,” she said. “My grandfather was a baker and my father was a baker, so I’ve been in the bakery since I was two.”
Burgett said she remembers going to her grandfather’s bakery in McPherson, Kan., as a little girl. Her family later moved to Wichita where her father managed an IGA bakery and brought Burgett and her sister into the business.
“I was 13 and [the sister] was 15 when he started us working,” she said. “He kept her in the decorating section and me in the baking section so we wouldn’t kill each other.”
Burgett said she was grateful to start working at such a young age, because by the time she turned 16, she was able to purchase her own car.
“My dad really gave me this work ethic of ‘this is what you gotta do to make money,'” she said. “When I got back into scratch baking, my dad came into my head I don’t know how many times. A lot of it I hadn’t done since I was really young, so I just felt like my dad was with me and it felt really good.”
Burgett said sinceshe learned the baking and cooking techniques from her family, she didn’t have to go to baking school.
“I had it all in the family,” she said. “It’s just like Rachael Ray. She’s not a chef — her mother taught her.”
Burgett’s sister continues to work at a French bakery in Wichita, and she has aunts, uncles and cousins in the bakery business. Burgett will be leaving Kramer to work in the bakery at HyVee starting July 27. Though she has liked working for K-State, Burgett said she is looking for more opportunity to use the techniques she’s learned growing up.
“I’ll lose my talents if I don’t use them,” she said. “So I had to move on.”
Co-workers said they have enjoyed her presence, so it will be quite different not having her around.
“I don’t like the fact she’s leaving,” Webb said. “I wish she would come back sometime and teach us.”
Amy VanDuesen, another co-worker at Kramer, said she and Burgett have decorated cakes together, and she will miss Burgett when she leaves.
Though Burgett is moving on from K-State, she said she has begged her sister to come to the area.
“It’s beautiful here,” she said. “I plan on sticking around for a while.”