Ever since Emily Burney was a kid, two desires have shaped her life.
The first was a deep yearning to move west. Family vacations to Colorado and glimpses of the mountain lifestyle confirmed that mountain life was for her. She held tight to her dream of leaving Chicago suburbia.
The second desire was to bake. And in her case, it’s a passion that runs deep. “I grew up with a mom and aunts who produced high-quality baked goods,” Burney says.
Immediately after graduation, Burney headed to Colorado where she worked seasonal jobs until she found a wilderness therapy position in St. George, Utah. It was there that a coworker encouraged Burney to apply for a ski patrol job at Canyons (now Park City Mountain).
Burney scored the position and started her time in Park City living out of her Jeep Cherokee in the Holiday Inn Express parking lot. Her uneasy living conditions did not hinder her initial perception of Park City. “As soon as I got to Park City, I fell in love, and I knew this was home,” she explains.
Thanks to ski patrol, Burney’s life was filled with meaning during the winter months; but her ambition to engage in substantial work year-round was the driving force behind her decision to start Auntie Em’s Baked Goods, a small-batch bakery that’s known for their pies and cookies.
“There is a lot of hard work that goes into making a good pie. Anytime someone sees and appreciates a good pie for what it’s worth is rewarding,” says Burney. Her favorite thing to hear from a customer is: “This is the best crust I have ever had,” and Burney grins as she says, “That to me is like angels singing.”
With a determination to bring joy to her customers and meaning to her life, it’s no surprise that Auntie Em’s has blossomed in five short years. And starting relationships with local farmers was an imperative building block. “It has been cool to build connections at the farmers market. There is no reason not to leave the farmers market with crates of fruit for pies,” says Burney, adding that she loves “getting to know the growers and getting to know their product.”
Last spring, after years as a vendor at the farmers market, Burney opened a storefront in Kimball Art Center—and her dedicated customers are delighted to have access to Auntie Em’s infamous pies and cookies more than just one day a week.
Burney reflects, “The Kimball Art Center is a wonderful gift, an opportunity to practice operating and making a high volume of pies, and to see what that looks like.”
After years of hard work and persistence, Burney has realized her longtime dream of living, baking, and finding purpose in a mountain town. She smiles and says simply, “Making people happy through something that I feel happy to make is a dream come true.”