Kristina Van Reenen, 26, has turned her cooking specialty—quiche—into eight different quick-frozen delights which she sells in her restaurant and to food suppliers throughout Maine, New Hampshire and upstate New York. The varieties, ranging from spinach to salmon, wholesale for $5 for a pie that will serve eight. Since her Bath, Maine bakery-restaurant opened two years ago, business has tripled from $80,000 to $250,000 a year. But the going wasn't always so easy for Kristina. Born in Cleveland, the daughter of an auto plant manager, she spent her early years in Buenos Aires and Montreal. Married at 17 and now divorced, she started baking whole-wheat bread in her own wood-burning stove in Maine. Her next, more ambitious baking venture failed within two years, but undaunted, she soon returned to establish Krishna's, featuring her pastries and quiches. "When I began, I knew nothing about financing, equipment, owning a building or training personnel," admits Kristina. She now has a staff of 20 to prepare pastries and quick-freeze the 2,000 quiches she bakes each month. "I've learned the hard way," she smiles. "But I've made my business work." Krishna's mind is now set on expansion. Her dream: "To see my name on a whole line of good foods sold all over the country."
Michael Patti, 25, wheels and deals as a gold trader on the frenetic floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. From 8:10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., Patti is in the "pit" shouting his buy and sell orders above the mob of traders. During those five hours and 20 minutes, he may trade more than $80,000 worth of gold—all for his own account—and can pocket $3,000 in profits. But that's on a good day, and he admits that he loses on seven out of 10 deals and figures on netting only $70,000 this year. Brought up in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago, the son of a prominent Sicilian-American dentist, the streetwise kid was fascinated by the fast-paced action of the exchange six years ago while working as an insurance company mail clerk. "After seeing all those people running around like maniacs," he grins, "I knew the 'Merc' was for me." So he apprenticed as a clerk, then as a runner and order taker. Last April an anonymous friend (and a member of the exchange) lent Patti $115,000 to buy a seat of his own. "I'll be paying for 20 years," he shrugs. After Patti finishes a day's work he finds it comforting to return to his own home turf on Chicago's Near West Side, where his parents still live. Although Patti handles millions, he keeps a level head. "Commodity trading is a humbling business," he has found. "If you think you know it all, you're in for a big surprise."
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