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Rising Stars: Meet Jodie Polk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jodie Polk. 

Hi Jodie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
In 1988, my husband Jim and I started a catering business called Culinary Combo. The name was in reference to our positions within the company: I was a pastry chef, and Jim was a chef. We also continued to work in restaurants while growing the business. In August of 2018, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died one month later. Honestly, I never thought I would bake again. Lost and confused as to what my next step would be, a team of friends and family wanted to help me find happiness again. With their love and support, Culinary Combo Bakery was born. This time around it was my daughter Jessica Barris who became my business partner, opening our first brick and mortar in October 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic was challenging but we continue to grow and learn as we approach our second anniversary. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The road to opening our bakery was definitely challenging. The pandemic affected everything from inspections to product availability. This combined with the major increase in inventory costs has made us reevaluate our original business plan. But we are still standing and constantly reinventing ourselves to coincide with the times. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Our bake goods are all from scratch. We specialize in fresh pastries made with real products. Known for our gift baskets and boxes, they all contain an array of delicious baked goods freshly prepared in our kitchen. I am proud of our dedication and work ethic which is evident as soon as you walk through our doors. Scratch bakeries are a dying breed so I believe this is what sets us apart from the competition. 

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
My advice to anyone just starting out would be to make sure you account for your food cost to increase in a blink of an eye. Also, listen to your customers; they will guide you and help you focus on their needs. I had only known what the pandemic would mean for our business.

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