Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00
Sometimes, life can take people down several career paths before they find their true calling; Such is the case of Pete Papaseraphim, who recently celebrated the opening of SweeTart, New Hyde Park’s newest bakery.
“I grew up in bakeries...by brother-in-law was a pastry chef,” he said. “I would go with him in the summer and on weekends and that’s how I learned the job. And when I was in college, I used to do it as a job and paid for college that way.”
Born and raised in Greece on the island of Cyprus, he came over to America in 1978 and attended school; after acquiring a Master’s Degree in Psychology, Papaseraphim then experienced some surprising career twists; instead of venturing into the first mental health field, he instead taught eighth-grade math in the New York City school system.
However, Papaseraphim resigned from the job after seven years due to the rapidly changing teaching climate in New York State brought about by increased assessment testing, evaluations and standardized curriculum mandates.
“You used to be able to teach with creativity, but it was getting to the point where they were telling you what to teach and when to teach it,” he said. “Plus, there were so many assessment tests that they took away from the actual daily lessons...it was stressful for myself, my students, and my fellow teachers.”
Instead of continue in a job that he was unhappy with, Papaseraphim left to return to the work he did as a pastry chef during school.
“I’ve always enjoyed the work...I find it relaxing, and it’s something I’ve been doing all my life” he said. “When you create something, you get to see the product of your work.
You work with dough, your work with pastries, you create...in a lot of jobs, you can’t see the end result of your work.”
When an opportunity finally presented itself, Papaseraphim eventually made the move to open his very own business- located at 1200 Jericho Turnpike, the newly-dubbed SweeTart held his grand opening on Aug. 13.
“Opening my own business is something that I’ve always wanted to do...I live in Garden City Park, so this is my community, this is where I belong. It’s worth the risk,” he said.
“At SweeTart, we make things that people love and things that people know, like cheesecakes, carrot cakes, layer cakes, chocolate mousses, and the one area I really want to concentrate on- different kinds of tarts.”
Papaseraphim said that he goal with his bakery is to create something unique in today’s marketplace that does so by harkening back to a simpler time where quality was the most important thing you put into your work.
“I want to remind people of the bakeries of the past,” he said. “You have a lot of high-end bakeries, where people aren’t familiar with the products. On the other end, you have mass-market bakeries at places like B.J.’s...what I’m trying to do is reach into the market and bring back the days where taste mattered. Looks and presentation are important, but you also want good quality ingredients and fresh, delicious taste in the product.”
Starting one’s own business in this day and age can be a daunting task for anyone, but Papaseraphim clearly has the excitement and enthusiasm to guide his new SweeTart to a successful and delicious future.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “You might ask yourself, ‘did I make the right move?’ But at the same time, it’s exciting, because it’s something new and something that you’re creating for yourself. Overall, it’s a very positive feeling and I’m really looking forward to being a part of the community. I think that the people who live here know what a good cake is, and that’s what I’m trying to provide for them.”