As a community-owned and cooperatively-operated business, co-op employees are some of Mississippi Market’s greatest assets. Our friendly, dedicated staff possess a wealth of knowledge. They work diligently to provide you with access to the freshest, healthiest foods and the safest, most effective personal health and beauty care products available. Our three stores employ over 200 people from our surrounding local communities who are passionate about sustainably grown and humanely raised foods; supporting local family farmers, vendors, and makers; and nurturing the health of people and the planet. We wouldn’t be here without them!
Interested in joining our co-op team?
Meet Mary Jo DuPaul — Central Kitchen Lead Baker
How long have you been working at the co-op, and what brought you here originally?
I’ve been working at the co-op for six and a half years now and have been in the baking industry for 39 years. My specialties are cakes and French pastries, and I love baking bread. I originally came to Mississippi Market Co-op because, at the time, the baking industry was moving in the direction of incorporating more vegan and gluten-free baked goods. I was very interested in learning about these types of baking, so working at the co-op seemed like a great direction to move in.
How did you get into professional baking? What led you to baking as a career?
As a kid, I was always baking. When I was in high school, I took a cake decorating class and loved it. Baking came very naturally to me. After high school, I went to school to get a degree in floral design. While getting my degree, I took a job at a bakery to pay my tuition. When their cake decorator quit, they asked me to take over, so I did. After obtaining my degree, I became a certified florist and began making wedding bouquets and wedding cakes. Eventually, I had to choose one career path. I started working for Pam Sherman, of New French Café and Turtle Bread fame, at her bakery and she blew my mind! I knew this new world was where I needed to be, and Pam became my mentor. From there, I took baking classes and traveled three times to Paris, where I fell in love with French pastries.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What do you love most about working at the co-op?
Baking, baking and baking! Not too many people get to do what they love at their job, but I do. When I was first hired, I was introduced to new ingredients that I’d never worked with before. Since then, I’ve continued to learn new things on the job — it’s always great to be learning something new.
In what ways are your personal values reflected in your work at the co-op?
Being able to bake a variety of healthful, delicious items for our members and shoppers using natural, organic, and locally sourced ingredients aligns well with my personal values. I also love that we offer vegan and gluten-free baked goods to provide options for all co-op shoppers and dietary needs.