CHICAGO - For almost 100 years, some of the most popular bakeries around the Chicago area have been meeting monthly in an exclusive baker's club.
The team from Weber's Bakery in Garfield Ridge is one of the members of the group called the "Bakers Dozen."
"It's basically a group of non-competitive bakeries that are located throughout the Chicagoland area. Typically all of the members of the community are part of bakeries that are full line retail. So we make bread, cakes, we all kind of do similar things, which is great because it gives us a lot that we have in common," said Weber's Bakery co-owner Rebecca Weber.
Weber is the fourth generation to help run Weber's Bakery, which started in 1930. That same year, Weber's great grandfather helped start the Baker's Dozen to chat about business and baking.
"I don't believe it was ever secret. I think the term we would use was ‘exclusive,’" Weber said.
When your club members work in a place like this, you know your meeting spread is going to be sweet.
"We'll kind of stand around a big bench, and we'll look at each other's product. Taste a lot of things. It's funny because usually we go to dinner after meetings but we really shouldn't because we're eating throughout the entire meeting," Weber said.
Normally, the bakers would meet once a month over pastries but when COVID hit, that all had to change. Instead, they picked up the phone and started texting.
"It's kind of just like having a meeting on your phone. Every day there might be a message or two and someone can help you, or you can ask someone something and it's just really nice to have that group of people who is always there to help each other," said Weber.
Usually there are 13 members, but currently there's just 10. It takes a unanimous secret ballot vote to let a new baker in. And yes, you can get kicked from the club.
Weber says that hasn’t happened recently.
"Not in my time, but yes, there have been some dramatic stories," she said.