Gen O: Steven Kelly
Omaha Magazine (January/February 2011)
By Wendy Townley
What started as a nostalgic tribute to hearty and homemade chicken pot pies from his childhood home in suburban Chicago has found its way nearly 500 miles west to a small Omaha bakery business whose mission is more than tasty treats.
Meet Steven Kelly, a 23-year-old recent graduate of Creighton University whose new project, The Educated Baker, yields not just all natural, preservative-free frozen cookie dough, but a high school mentoring program that teaches students the value of entrepreneurship.
Kelly, a Chicago native who moved to Omaha to attend Creighton University, started his college career as a pharmacy major, but quickly learned entrepreneurship was his true calling.
Kelly began brainstorming in 2009 for his senior thesis project. Hunger pains (or perhaps a little homesickness) may have prompted Kelly’s idea, as he began working on a wholesale pot-pie manufacturing plant.
“Chicken pot pies are the ultimate,” Kelly said.
Kelly took his Creighton project into the community, but added a new ingredient: mentoring. Thus The Educated Baker was born, which today gives local high school students the opportunity to work in the kitchen, earn money for their efforts and learn the concept of entrepreneurship.
Kelly has since added two partners – Tyler Price, 21; and Genevieve Alander, 20 – and has temporarily changed his product to all-natural cookie dough. Kelly and his cohorts currently use Gerda’s Bakery at 51st and Leavenworth Streets on Sundays and Mondays, when the bakery isn’t open.
In early 2011, The Educated Baker will move to a full-service kitchen at the Mastercraft building on North 13th Street.
The frozen, all-natural cookie dough is sold at Hy Vee (Snickerdoodle and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip among the current flavors), and customers of Blue Planet Natural Grill can purchase an Educated Baker cookie with their lunch or dinner. Kelly hopes local coffeehouses will also soon follow suit.
As much as Kelly enjoys the project and the baked goods, he admits his efforts are not about dollar signs.
“We are breaking even right now,” he said. “We do not have a tremendously profitable company, but we want a sustainable company. We want to continually feed money back into the mentoring program.”