Baked with Love
Baked with Love
Marciano Commons’ Carmen Quijada makes 600 cookies a day
Vegan red velvet cupcakes. Salted caramel blondies. Cherry hand pies. If you’ve dined at Marciano Commons and ended your meal with something sweet, you probably have baker Carmen Quijada to thank.
Quijada, who has worked at BU Dining Services for almost seven years, was born in El Salvador and moved to the Boston area in 2011. She found the job at BU thanks to her dad, Danny, who had previously worked for BU Dining, too.
“I got hired here because they needed a helper at nights, but I never baked a cookie before,” Quijada says. Dining Services lead baker Sonia Johnson took the new hire under her wing, an experience that Quijada describes as awesome. “She’s my teacher, but more than that, she’s like my mom,” she says. Johnson trained her protégée to first bake vegan desserts, all of which are made from scratch, before moving on to cakes and cookies, which often come from a mix.
Quijada’s five-day-a-week, eight-hour-shift starts at 10 am. She estimates her team makes about 600 cookies a day, just for Marciano Commons. Next week is the annual themed Halal-A-Topia (A Taste of Authentic Cuisine from Across the Muslim World Dinner) celebration in concert with the BU Islamic Society, and Quijada is already thinking of desserts, like Egyptian zalabya (sweet fritters).
“Themed nights are difficult because sometimes you have never seen that item before,” she says. “You have to read the recipe, Google it, and see how it looks, and then make it.”
She says her favorite part of her job is interacting with students, many of whom know her name and swing by to say hi (and grab a cookie).
Outside of work, Quijada enjoys photography, hiking, singing, and spending time with daughter Isabella. She bakes at home, too, and says her sister especially loves her apple crisp, and her brother-in-law puts in special requests for lemon crumble. Quijada says she doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, though she will indulge in key lime pie.
The one dessert she has yet to conquer is a classic French macaron, famous for its soft buttercream center and crunchy shell. “I’ve tried many times and they don’t come out perfect,” she says, “and I want them to be perfect.”
Thank you Carmen and Sonia for making such delicious treats!
Thank you Joe we love you too we remembered you all the time here with Sonia !
This video gave me all the feels this morning on a snowy day here Colorado. I was lucky enough to call Carmen and Sonia part of my extended family for many years while working with Dining Services at BU. They both are wonderful bakers and even better humans.
I have never been disappointed with a dessert at Marciano and often take too many! Carmen, you are the best!