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Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,513 Ratings  ·  379 Reviews
A former Hollywood insider trades the Hollywood Hills for Green Acres and lives to tell about it in this hilarious, poignant treat of a memoir.

As head of her celebrity sister’s production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential studio heads, but she was miserable. The only solace she found was in her secret
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Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published 2009)
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Heidi The Hippie Reader
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Confections of a Closet Master Baker can be an abrasive, no-holds-barred memoir about the dark and impersonal underbelly of Hollywood, at times. At others, it is a poignant reminiscence and heartfelt cookbook by a woman who still mourns her mother.

I wouldn't call it "hilarious." This memoir is sarcastic and unapologetic about it.

"As a matter of fact, I have only two truisms that I apply to humanity. Never trust anyone who drives an Astro van. And never trust anyone who doesn't drink beer or coff
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Cheryl
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I was given this book the first thing I asked the person who gave it to me was, “Why’d you get me a book about baking? I’m a vegan.” And I was told it was because from what she’d seen, the author loved baking; people, not so much, just like me.

I really started liking the book right out of the gate, with the mention of the nightmare inducing book Struwwelpeter, which my sister and I were also subjected to (by our non-German family) when we were kids. Bullock-Prado does a nice job of weaving
...more
Kelly
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to say I enjoyed this book because I loved the entire concept. However, in order for me to really dig deep into a memoir I need to feel a sense of connection to the writer. I absolutley commend her for leaving a high profile job to follow her dream in becoming a professional baker. However, she just didn't sound like the warmest person and in some cases came across as down right arrogant. I began to wonder if she is quite the smart a-- and I am just not understanding her humor? A ...more
Joanie
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
5 stars might be a little much but I really, really enjoyed this. I read it in a weekend-no small feat considering it was my son's 4th birthday.

I took this book out from the library not realizing it was written by Sandra Bullock's sister. I'm not so dim that I couldn't have put two and two together-there was a "New Book" sticker over the top where the author's name was written and I didn't really look much closer until I finally started to read it.

I don't know that I would have picked this up a
...more
Liralen
I don't mean to insult the author when I say this, but I suspect that the biggest reason this book was published is that her sister is (very) famous.

I've seen it written -- and I believe -- that memoirs are published for one or more of three reasons: the writing is brilliant, the author is famous, or the story is unique. In this case it seems to be fame-by-proxy.

It's not that the writing's bad -- the stories are cute. The story isn't tremendously unique -- lots of people switch careers -- but it
...more
Lindsey
Feb 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
The alleged charm of this book was lost on me. The lauded opening, "I saw the devil at age three and he gave me chocolate. It changed my life forever," is followed by the clunker, "And in the end it was the example of unlikely angels and the power of confections that led me on a sweet path to happiness and grace in my adult life," to close out the first chapter. Shudder. That's oddly saccharine for a book you named "Master Baker" with bawdy intent.

Despite the structure of each chapter being an
...more
Amy Meyer
Nov 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone especially bakers
Recommended to Amy by: Review copy
Title: Confections of a Closet Master Baker
Author: Gesine Bullock-Prado
ISBN: 978-0-7679-3268-4
Pages: 223
Release Date: September 2009
Publisher: Broadway Books
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher: As head of her celebrity sister’s production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential studio heads, but she was miserable. The only solace she found was in her secret hobby: baking. With every sugary, buttery confection to emerge from he
...more
Patty
”I am searching for my car keys and I look out the kitchen window to see where the moon hangs. If it is just above our first ridge of pine, lighting my path to the barn door, I am making good time. Any hint of daylight and I’m screwed

This is a lovely way of looking at having to get up before the world. I only hope that the author is really referring to one particular early morning, not every time she has to be at her bakery by 5:00 in the morning. The story about the moon can only be true one da
...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Jackie says:

This book had me at it's very short but very memorable first paragraph: "I saw the devil at the age of three and he gave me chocolate. It changed my life forever."

Gesine (pronounced geh see neh--don't mess it up because it makes her crazy when you do) had a glamourous Hollywood life running a production company with her sister Sandra Bullock. Red carpets, "doing" lunch, meetings and schmoozing made up her daily life. And she was miserable. To make herself feel better, she turned to
...more
Tara
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, baking-cooking
This is a wonderful little book which I savoured over two weeks (pun intended!). Gesine, the author has a passion for baking and using quality ingredients which is felt throughout the book. Each chapter of the book is an hour in the day of a professional baker, starting at 4.00am when she stumbles out of bed. At the end of each chapter she includes a wonderful recipe. The memoir is part reminising about her childhood in Germany, her German Opera singing, vegetarian, marathon running mother and h ...more
Holly
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book. It's not just about the fact Gesine is Sandra Bullock's sister, or her life in Hollywood, or the pains of starting/running a bakery in Vermont. It's about family and making people happy with good food and the memories we all have when we smell something specific baking or cooking and how sometimes that smell can even hurt a little because we miss that person so much.
This book is lovely. Gesine sounds like several people I know--not a people person, but has some
...more
Kathleen
Mar 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Despite it's odd structure, so-so writing, and clear stink of privilege (I'm not too sympathetic to the start-up trials and tribulations of business owners funded and promoted by the Hollywood elite), I was sort of on board with this book. I always like a story about someone finding her calling and pursuing her dreams (even when those dreams are bankrolled by your sis). But I just couldn't get behind the weird chapter about Bullock-Prado's disdain for fat people and her attempts to make her bake ...more
Audrey
A surprisingly readable account of opening and running a bakery in Vermont. I do quibble with calling the author a "country baker" as her store was in downtown Montpelier, which is the state's capital and is home to 8,000 people. In contrast, I live in a town that doesn't have a stoplight. Bits of our dirt road keep washing into the creek. But that's a minor quibble.

What made this book so readable is not just that the author writes vividly and well, but she writes about more than running a baker
...more
Bonnie
This was one of those books sitting on my TBR for so long I had forgotten what it was about and why I added it. I vaguely knew from the book description that it was about a woman running a bakery who had a famous sister. It wasn't until the mention of "Sandy" that I realized, Oh duh, Gesine Bullock-Rrado is Sandra Bullock's sister. Thaaaat makes sense, what with the last name and the author photo where you can see the resemblance.

Still can't remember for the life of me why it was added to my TBR
...more
Chris
Note: If you are looking for this book in paperback, they changed the title. It's now called "My Life from Scratch." I've never seen that before, not sure why....

Gesine takes the reader through the day of a baker, starting at 3 a.m. and all the goings on during this time. Each essay ends with a recipe that she talks about making in the chapter, clearly written for even the novice baker. I found this book to actually be a love letter to her mother and the city of Montpelier, Vermont. A self descr
...more
Amanda Morgan
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Once a high-powered Hollywood movie executive, Gesine Bullock-Prado was never very happy with her career. She used to sit in meetings and create recipes and grocery lists. Eventually, Bullock-Prado took control of her future by taking the plunge out of Hollywood and into Montpelier, Vermont, where she opened her own small bakery.
However, being sister to the famous Sandra Bullock, Gesine’s bakery, Gesine Confectionary, didn’t stay a small little sweet shop for long. In “Confections of a Closet M
...more
Jim Gullo
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading baking memoirs lately, since I've been madly fantasizing about taking my present wild infatuation with home baking and turning pro. Could I really start a cake bakery in my town? Buy a catering truck and go mobile? Become a doughnut king? The first book I tried, entitled "The (Faux) Pastry Chef," was an utter dud, written by a woman who had some industrial baking jobs and felt the need to complain about every single place she ever worked, with mesmerizing details of her workers ...more
Karen
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, memoir
My friend Glenda recommended it, but I wish I had found it before getting a diagnosis of hypoglycemia. Oh, my. So much white flour, butter and sugar. I skipped the recipes and focused on Gesine's cranky wit. As someone who has perfected the art of kvetching myself, I appreciate her world view. She's a bookish gal, so she does a good job creating a word-wrought path into the mind of a baking artist. I could never live her life, but I admire the passion and dedication she brings to her bakery busi ...more
Kaitlin
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was wandering through the bookstore one night last December. Picking up gifts here and there, looking for nothing in particular. At the end of my trip, just as the store was about to close, I went to make my final purchases. I was tired, I was in a hurry ... and this book called to me from the little stand by the cash register. It said to me, quite plainly, "You need me."

I bought it in an instant. Without thinking, without even fully reading the back cover. Simply by the title and the feel of
...more
Patrice Sartor
I didn't realize initially that this is written by Sandra Bullock's sister, or that the 'Sandy' in the book referred to her. I mention this up front because it really doesn't matter. While Sandra Bullock is mentioned, it is only through the natural course of Gesine telling the tale of how she started her bakery. Name-dropping can be annoying at best and gratuitous and nauseating at worst, but this never felt like name-dropping, I'm happy to say.

Gesine has a lovely writing style, and a sharp wit
...more
Mark
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it
A charming little baking memoir by Sandra Bullock's own sister, Gesine, who quit her job as a high-power Hollywood exec and pursued her dream of owning a bakery in Vermont. I enjoyed the narrative of Bullock-Prado's book and how she structured it, and some of her observations, though spoken with a somewhat opinionated bite, I felt were dead-on (I loved her response to vegans, personally). There were many of her memories I found myself nodding my head with in complete understanding - I loved the ...more
Turi
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book wasn't what I expected.

I was expecting a self-absorbed, boutique-ey book about someone who fancied themselves a baker.

Instead I was plunged into Gesine Bullock-Prado's memoir of her exodus from the shallow Hollywood world she had found herself in, to a self-created temple of baking delight in Montpelier, Vermont.

This is DEEP baking. Her grasp of why baking matters, what in means to the baker and the consumer, is breathtaking. There is sadness, joy, excitement, boredom,and life here.
...more
Denise
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is Gesine Bullock-Prado's memoir of leaving the rat race in Hollywood to open a bakery in Vermont. It comes complete with the usual funny mishaps and quirky characters. I think what I liked best about this book is Gesine herself. Far from the fat, jolly baker, she is impatient, caustic and sometimes not too sure she actually likes people all that much. What she does like is baking. She lives and breathes it, obsessing over the perfect cherry pie or macaroon. Opening a bakery she learns she ...more
Amanda
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Memoir about girl brought up by German mother and Oma, and American father. Grows up, gets job working in Hollywood with famous sister. Hates Hollywood and the culture of shallow, image -obsessed entertainment types. Doesn't really like people all that much, would rather bake the treats that remind her of her beloved mom and Oma. Gives Hollywood the finger, moves to Vermont with husband and dogs and opens a bakery.

Gesine writes with such love about what food means to her, and how it has always h
...more
Becky
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really respect people who recreate their lives when they have available to them the credentials and the avenue to establish the prototypical vision of American success. As an attorney, as a member of her sister's production company, Gesine could have coasted through several decades of life, but she tore up her life to follow her bliss even though that meant working as hard as a brick layer.

Her writing is honest and flows easily. It's a quick read, but the images of her creations continue to li
...more
Brian
Apr 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This memoir slash cookbook features a woman who is a baker who happens to be Sandra Bullocks sister. The book has both recipes which sound delicious but oh so fattening as well as text. The story itself itself is very meandering and not sequential at all which makes it difficult to follow. I enjoyed the random illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. This author is very opinionated
In her views of Vegans!!
Shelley
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chris, I'm glad I saw this on your bookshelf! Found it to be an honest, inspiring memoir. Worth reading for the Golden Eggs recipe alone.
Victoria Stevens
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the book. Probably 15 WW Points Plus just for reading it. YUM
Andrea
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Written with such charm and humor, it was hard to put down! Gesine makes you want to stop everything you are doing and start getting dirty in the kitchen. Her passion for her career shines through every word, and this book is an inspiration for us all to find our true calling. I could read this 3+ times over, easily.
Skyler
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well-written, funny, poignant, informative
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