She comes from a large Italian-American family, with three brothers and two sisters, and 11 nieces and nephews. Loyalty and closeness are paramount, she said, as she trimmed the edges off some raspberry Linzer tarts in her commercial kitchen.
"The kitchen is where everybody hangs out," Chappell said. "Food was such a big important part of family life, and even today it's still that way."
Always looking ahead
Chappell's blondish-gray hair is up, and she wears a pink polo with the Sweet Endings logo above her heart. Pink is her color, and the bakery menus and marketing material reflect that choice, as does the kitchen, which is decorated with pink and brown. Among the shiny new stainless-steel ovens, spatulas, rollers, peelers and other tools of her trade are a pink microwave and pink coffee maker.
She constantly pursues new business and has been working with area caterers. She recently joined the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce where she can also make connections and pick up business. It's working.
Word about her baked goods has spread to the wedding community, and brides-to-be have been frequenting her shop to taste her sweets and book the baker for their receptions.
On Oct. 4, however, Mary switched her business from an order-only specialty shop by opening the doors to retail walk-in customers.
"Obviously I don't have everything I make, but I'll have cookies and cupcakes and some of the things I make," Mary said. "I'm hoping to do that Fridays, too."
Chappell's mom, Edna Albanese, said she's proud of her daughter's work.
"She works hard at her job and she comes home and cooks," Albanese said. "She didn't get it from me."
Chappell grew up watching her grandmother operate in the kitchen, and that stuck with her.
"That's all she did, was cook, cook, cook," Chappell said, arranging still-warm fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies on a tray. "She was more of a cook than a baker."