EASTON — From pillowy light scones to savory croque messieurs, the fabulous bakery known as Turnbridge Talbot on Goldsborough Street in Easton will be remembered for their attention to the high art of baking. The Easton bakery will shutter its doors on Saturday, Dec. 12.
Owner and celebrity chef Steve Konopelski is moving on to a teaching career.
“It has been our absolute pleasure to serve and get to know you as our patrons and our friends,” Konopelski said in an emotional farewell video. “Thanks to you we were able to provide hundreds of pastries to essential workers during the onset of the COVID pandemic in our area. While this journey (that) has included 50,000 Kouign-amanns has been rewarding in many ways, like other small businesses, we have also experienced our share of challenges.” he said. Kouign-amanns are popular French pastries.
“Operations and safety have been increasingly difficult, and I have been presented with a safer and more stable full-time teaching opportunity. So it is with a heavy heart that I am here to inform you that we will be closing our doors on Saturday, Dec. 12,” he said.
“I intend to continue to offer private baking classes and group demos once it is safer to do so. We are so grateful for your tremendous loyal support of both Turnbridge Point and Turnbridge Talbot. We look forward to seeing you all this week. Let’s make it a great one,” Konopelski said.
Turnbridge Point is a Denton bed and breakfast opened by Konopelski and his business partner and spouse Rob Griffith in 2015. Konopelski and Griffith opened Turnbridge Talbot bakery in 2019. The bed and breakfast closed earlier this year.
“Physically, I am only off to Denton, but I have been offered a teaching position with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, which has a campus in Boulder and one in Austin and then an online campus. I am one of the new pastry instructors for the online campus,” he said. “We have a student body of about 6,000.”
Konopelski has made many technically balanced and beautiful confections — cookies, tarts and pies, pain au chocolate and dark and rich brownies.
The move to teaching is yet another chapter in Konopelski rich life and career.
He graduated from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and had a ten-year career on Broadway. In 2011, he enrolled in the French pastry program at the French Culinary Institute.
His wedding cakes have been featured by Martha Stewart. He has also competed on Food Network baking shows including winning a “Haunted Gingerbread Showdown,” and he started a YouTube baking show in September.
Konopelski brings the art and science of baking to the highest level. His wedding cakes are both aesthetically perfect and delicious.
“The wedding cake is a literal show-stopper at any wedding. It is the centerpiece of one of the most intimate moments of the reception. I love creating the perfect cake that makes the moment unforgettable,” he said on his Facebook page.
“It is incredibly bittersweet to leave here. When the opportunity came to open Turnbridge Talbot, exponential growth was happening. We were doing well as far as sales and financially,” he said.
“Our problem has become that in the last three months, we’ve lost 50% of our kitchen staff,” he said. “We haven’t been able to find anybody that can replace them. Some of it is definitely related to COVID. We lost one because she lost her childcare so she needed to stay home with her children.”
The situation has made for staffing and workload challenges.
“It has been very difficult to find talented and skilled staff that we need. We had seven kitchen staff, but now we are down to four, including me,” Konopelski said. “So for the last few months I have been doing 14- to 16-hour days, six days a week, which is a workload that is impossible to maintain. So essentially we are cutting the cord before it snaps. So when God closes one door, he opens an even more fabulous door.”
The Turnbridge bakery’s confection cases sit empty with mere flakes left. The closure is a grim economic reminder of the power of COVID and all its impact to alter entrepreneurial and creative aspirations.
Local Easton floral designer, DeDe Hoopes of Chesapeake Blooms, worked with him several times on weddings.
“We worked together on flowers on top of wedding cakes — color wise and being in a certain theme, he does an amazing job,” Hoopes said.
“He also had a wonderful gluten-free peanut bar that was divine. Usually I can’t eat in a bakery, but I could at Turnbridge,” Hoopes said.
“To have a high-end bakery in town was really a treat. I think they will be missed,” she said. “Also he’s funny. He has a great personality.”