Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico and
Zaytinya — Washington, D.C.
Sweet and savory cooking should be seen as one long continuum.
The rigid distinction between chef and pastry chef should be
dissolved. I try to work like a chef and more closely with chefs.
I think desserts should be smaller, less sweet, less bound by
traditional forms and utilize herbs and vegetables more. It’s
also important to embrace culinary innovation and not get too
hung up on terms like "authentic" and "traditional."
I try to get the essence of what an ingredient says to me first.
The only "cooking" school I attended formally was
L'Academie de Cuisine's part-time professional pastry program
under Mark Ramsdell in 1993, which taught classic French pastry.
The Medal of the French Government from the Societe Culinaire
Philanthropique - which they've awarded for something like 135
Tools you can't
A freezer that gets down to –5. My Indian spice grinder.
A handheld immersion blender with interchangeable frothing disks
and variable speeds, the iSi Profi whipper.
Very dark caramel, single origin and varietal dark chocolates
from E. Guittard and Michel Cluizel, vanilla beans, raw sugars
like jaggery and panela, muscovado sugar, Greek or goat's milk
yogurt, dessert wines of all kinds, especially Pedro Ximenez
and botrytised wines, Medjool dates, gelatin and agar-agar,
cardamom, anise and cinnamon.
tips for dessert success:
1. Don't settle job-wise and try to take more control of your
2. Don't do something just because that's how it was taught
to you or it has always been done - keep an open mind, rethink,
3. Be your own harshest critic.
Jacques Torres - He is the only modern pastry chef to have reached
both the absolute pinnacle of professional respect and achievement
AND to also attain widespread popular recognition; Philippe
Conticini - for his willingness to create fearless combinations
of flavor and texture, his unique and poetic palate and his
I will always choose something with caramel, chocolate and fleur
de sel if it's on the menu. I appreciate any dessert that is
- 3 sheets gelatin
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups Casta Diva wine
(Casta Diva is a wonderfully
fragrant Spanish dessert wine - but Sauternes, Muscat des
Beaumes, Chappellet Moelleux or Inniskillin ice wine can
- 6 ounces sugar
- 2 Tahitian vanilla beans, split and scraped
Summer Berry Salad
- 1 pint fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries,
raspberries or blackberries
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 ounces simple syrup
- Baby mint and/or lemon verbena leaves, optional
- 9 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 9 ounces simple syrup
- 18 ounces water
Soften gelatin in cold water and set aside. Bring the wine,
sugar and the vanilla beans to a boil; turn heat down and
simmer gently, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat,
add gelatin, stir and let cool to room temperature.
When cool, pour into shallow, wide bowls about 1/4 inch tall.
Refrigerate until set. Wrap each bowl in plastic to keep odors
For Summer Berry Salad:
Puree a handful of berries in a blender, strain out the seeds,
and toss with the rest of the fruit. Add a squeeze of lemon
juice and some simple syrup to adjust sweetness. Add baby
mint and lemon verbena leaves, if using. Toss and set aside
to macerate. Fruits will have different sweetness and acidity,
so remember to taste as you go!
For Lemon Granite:
Combine lemon juice, simple syrup and water. Stir, and pour
into a container and freeze 4 hours or up to overnight. Scrape
surface with a spoon to shave ice crystals.
Unwrap gelatin. Place the berry salad in the middle of the
bowl, making sure to leave a 1-inch border of gelatin. Place
granite crystals on top of the berries and serve with spoon.