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Kim Thomas’ 15 minutes of fame came this summer when the Lifetime Channel used her Centerbrook bakery Savour as a set for the film A Very Nutty Christmas. Even better, she says? She herself never had to go on camera. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The old song “You Oughta Be in Pictures” applies to Kim Thomas—sort of. It’s not Kim who actually was in a movie; it was her bakery, Savour in Centerbrook, that was a central location for A Very Nutty Christmas, a Lifetime Channel Christmas movie.
The movie has been shown several times, but there are still opportunities to see it on the Lifetime Channel: Friday, Dec. 21 at 10:03 p.m. and a viewing that most watchers would probably rather record—Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:04 a.m.
Kim was happy that her bakery had a prominent role and she was equally glad that she did not make any appearance in the movie.
“No, no, I never wanted to be on the screen. I don’t even like to have my picture taken; video is out of my comfort zone,” she says.
The movie stars Melissa Joan Hart, best known for her role in the television series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as a bakery owner who lost the Christmas spirit after her boyfriend broke up with her. But she rediscovers both romance and her love of Christmas through the gift of a magic nutcracker that turns into a handsome suitor. All that love helps her to fulfill a daunting order for 12,000 Christmas cookies.
Kim has already seen the movie; she had a party for her staff so they could all view the picture together when it debuted.
“It was a typical Lifetime Christmas movie, lighthearted and fun,” she says. “We had a good laugh and the bakery looked beautiful.”
Last spring the movie company working on the film got a tip through Susan Malan, an economic development consultant for the Town of Essex, about Savour as it was searching for an appropriate site. Kim recalls members of the production team showed up last March and looked at her space, but the movie makers told Kim they were looking at a dozen other bakeries, as well.
She didn’t hear anything for a month, then during the last week of April, someone from the movie staff called to say they were going to bring producer Paula Hart, Melissa Joan Hart’s mother, to see the store. After that, things began to happen fast; the movie makers told Kim on a Wednesday that they would start filming the following Monday.
The producers asked something more of Kim: 1,500 cookies for the set.
“They wanted a specific look,” Kim recalls, explaining they showed her pictures of what they needed.
And the movie makers did not care about what most cookie eaters prize: taste.
“The cookies were really not edible; they filmed for a week, so the cookies were a week old. We used shortening, not butter, because we thought the cookies would hold up better,” Kim says.
The film crew didn’t leave until midnight on a Friday. Kim opened the bakery for regular business on Sunday morning.
“Getting everything done was a challenge,” she recalls.
Kim, who grew up in Killingworth, says she always wanted to own a bakery.
“I always loved baking; it’s amazing what you can do with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs,” she says. “I never had another career aspiration.”
Kim looked for three years for an ideal space for her bakery. She had already decided that she wanted her store to be in Centerbrook, and she wanted both French-inspired décor and French-inspired baked goods. In fact, her own favorite pastry, which Savour makes only on weekends, is French, a cake from Brittany known as kouign-amann in Breton, a Celtic language, or Breton butter cake. The sweet is made of layers of puff pastry, butter, and sugar.
Before opening the bakery, Kim visited bakeries in New York City both to look and to taste and she started her own storyboard with ideas for what she wanted.
“I tacked up color schemes, chairs, curtains,” she recalls. When she went to get start-up advice from SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, they were less interested in the storyboard than her business plan.
“One gentleman told me that you can’t eat atmosphere,” she says. “I needed more numbers and more market research.”
Opening the bakery, Kim says, was different from thinking about opening the bakery.
“I didn’t really realize how demanding it is both physically and mentally,” she says.
She credits her three children and her husband for the encouragement they gave her.
“I had the support of my family,” she recalls. “They knew I had a dream.”
Now the family is quite literally sharing in the experience. Kim often takes advantage of the prepared food selections at the bakery.
“There are skilled chefs here; I bring dinner home. I’d rather spend time with my family,” she says.
The bakery, which Kim says has a total of 18 people on staff, has three skilled bakers and three savory chefs for prepared food. Before putting out a new creation, the staff critiques it. This summer the bakery worked on an angel food cake that never passed muster.
“We tweaked the recipe, but we were never happy with it,” Kim says. The verdict, according to Kim, “Forget it.” That cake never made it to the sales counter.
Time with family is now at a premium since Kim says it’s essential to be at the bakery, not only to see that operations are running smoothly but to get to know the customers.
“It’s important to know who wants a large decaf in a double cup and what kind of scone someone wants,” she explains.
And there is one more thing Kim never seems to have time for: the very thing that inspired her to open the bakery in the first place. She herself is so busy that now she has very little opportunity to bake.
A Very Nutty Christmas airs on the Lifetime Channel on Friday, Dec. 21 at 10:03 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:04 a.m.
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