You probably know the cookies to look at them – and almost certainly to taste them. The award-winning, multimillion-dollar chocolate chip cookie that Tate’s Bake Shop has perfected is the creation of Kathleen King, who founded Tate’s in 2000 before selling the business in 2018. With cookies available in supermarkets nationwide, and praise from the country’s leading cookie connoisseurs, King’s journey includes a SUNY Cobleskill degree. King joined President Terenzio to reflect on that journey, and an undeniable drive for success.
“I was out of my time,” King says, when asked about the lessons she credits SUNY Cobleskill for instilling. She describes herself as a “wallflower,” intent on absorbing wisdom and always ready to volunteer to assist with Saturday projects – the kind that are almost always menial, and almost never to earn credit. She quickly learned “good is never good enough,” she tells President Terenzio, a mantra she carries with her today. A 24-hour job, to bake a wedding cake from scratch, was a turning point in her career while at SUNY Cobleskill. She credits her professor, Bob Sielaff – whose recipes appear in multiple cookbooks authored by King – for working by her side throughout the project.
As she recollects, President Terenzio asks King for advice to give to current students, particularly those preparing to embark on their own culinary careers. She cautions. A know-it-all attitude often leads to pigeon-holing, and restricts the flow of incoming information, says King, putting those who have recently entered the industry on a fast track out of it. She advises young professionals to break in with an open mindset: “You need to have a willingness to do anything it takes to learn.”
“I would tell myself to have more fun, and to embrace life to the fullest,” King says, when asked what she would do if she could travel in time and return to school. “You can always say ‘no’ to something next time,” adds King. “Work hard, but work hard for a purpose. If you just work to be safe, you miss out.”
Hard work, an open mindset, and opportunity have created a path that puts King in position to give back. Today, she tells President Terenzio, she is especially committed to benefitting rising professionals.
“You never know who might change the world,” says King. “All young people have the capacity. [Giving back] doesn’t always need to be financial. Help in any way; it isn’t hard to do.”
Feature photo: Kathleen King ’79 is the founder and owner of Tate’s Bake Shop, of Southampton, NY