BLU | Boston
Lynn Moulton is Pastry Chef at blu in Boston, where
she is responsible for designing and executing the restaurant desserts,
confections and breads, as well as overseeing the pastries for blu
Lynn, a Vermont native, began baking as a child in her grandmother’s
kitchen. Although she first pursued a degree in visual arts, her
love of sweets brought her back into the kitchen, where she was
able to combine this with her aesthetic and creative training. After
taking courses at New England Culinary Institute and graduating
from art school, Lynn got her first kitchen job working as a pastry
cook at Radius in Boston. She went on to Ambrosia on
Huntington and then took her first pastry chef job at L’Etoile,
a classic French, chef-owned restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard.
On returning to Boston, Lynn initially worked as a pastry assistant
at blu; in June 2002, she taught a design course at New
England Culinary Institute and accepted the position of pastry chef
at Rialto. Her years at Rialto, working with Executive
Chef Jody Adams, were formative to her management style and food
philosophy. In January 2005 she made a long-planned move to Paris,
where she took intensive French lessons, sampled as much pastry
as she could afford, and worked a four month stage at restaurant
Lynn aspires to owning her own patisserie, where she can create
new and inspired desserts, drawing from her experiences at home
AT: Did you attend culinary
LM: I studied for 2 months
at NECI. My previous education was at Bennington College and then
Massachusetts College of Art. When I was finishing up art school,
I realized that I didn’t have any plan for a career with a
steady income. I always liked to bake, so I audited the associates
level pastry classes at NECI to see if it was something I was serious
AT: So basically you figured
out how to get a culinary education for free! Next question: How
did you get your first pastry job?
LM: I called Paul Connors,
who was then the pastry chef at Radius. He often took non-industry
volunteers who wanted to work one day a week for some experience.
I started part-time at Radius and then went on to a full-time position.
AT: What restaurants that
you have worked in as a pastry chef have been the most influential?
LM: My seasonal pastry chef
job at L’Etoile on Martha’s Vineyard was the first time
that I was responsible for a department. It was only myself and
a part-time assistant, but it forced me to become very efficient
and organized. I grew the most at Rialto. I was very green when
I started, and was just figuring out how to design desserts and
run a full-sized department. I feel there’s still lots of
room to bring my desserts to their full potential, but I came out
of Rialto with strong management skills and a fully formed philosophy
AT: What pastry or kitchen
tools can’t you live without?
LM: A Kuhn peeler—it’s
a plastic peeler with a horizontal blade. It costs about 5 bucks,
so you can always replace it when the blade is gone. Also Victorinox’s
serrated paring knife – it’s the same way: cheap, and
you can always have a good sharp one on hand. My dream piece of
equipment for a kitchen, that’s not necessarily a given, is
a Pacojet for ice creams and sorbets. And my newest “why didn’t
anybody think of this before?” gadget is an electric coffee/spice
grinder that has a removable metal canister – it’s indestructible
and easy to clean.
AT: What are your favorite
LM: Everything tart and acidic—citrus,
sun-dried cherries, yogurt. I tend to start with an acid, and then
pair rich creams, fruits and nuts to create rounder notes and balance
it all out. Some individual flavors that I always come back to are
cornmeal, coffee, citrus, and fresh herbs. I don’t think herbs
in desserts is just a passing fad– it had a spike in popularity,
when using anything beside mint was the “new” thing
to do, but I think that has allowed herbs to become an important
permanent part of the pastry vocabulary.
AT: What are your top three
tips for dessert success?
LM: Technically, I think the
most basic advice is the most important: measure carefully (I always
think of the detailed type of directions in “The Joy of Cooking.”)
And in terms of getting desserts to the dining public, making and
describing desserts in a way that is accessible is critical. People
will try something new generally only if they have been given a
frame of reference for it – a way to approach it. When I’m
testing desserts out on wait staff or friends, I often get: “how
should I eat this?” or “do I need to eat this in any
particular order?” Taking time to taste and enjoy a dessert
is important, but it shouldn’t need an instruction manual.
AT: Who are your mentors/pastry
LM: The pastry chef who first
inspired me was Paul Connors – his desserts were incredible,
and he was fun, friendly, and approachable as a manager.
The designer whose work I most admire would have to be Pierre Hermé
– he’s achieved the pinnacle of mind-bogglingly good
pastries! I lived a few blocks from his second boutique in Paris
and couldn’t stay away. And finally the chef who was most
influential would be Jody Adams. Above all, she taught me never
to lose sight of the importance of the freshness and immediacy of
AT: What are your favorite
LM: Everyone asks that, and
I always struggle to answer. I love dessert. One of my enduring
favorites is crème brulée – it’s simple
to make and I love to eat it. I like my own the best; I think any
pastry chef would say that – it’s the way you get it
just right for your own taste. And of course chocolate is the thing
I crave the most if I don’t have it for a day. I use Valrhona
and El Rey at work, and Dagoba for eating at home.
AT: What trends do you see
emerging in pastry arts?
LM: The most recent was the
influence of the techniques introduce by restaurant El Bulli. There
was quite a sensation in the professional food world, both savory
and sweet, when their work became well known. A lot of new food
has been produced using their techniques and style, both skillfully
and less so. It’s been a bit slower to hit Boston than New
York because we have fewer restaurants that can afford to be edgy
and experimental. But we’re seeing it nonetheless in the exploration
of new techniques and previously unknown ingredients (I thought
tonka was a toy truck, until recently). Advanced kitchen chemistry
allows techniques that weren’t feasible before. For example,
stabilizers allow you to whip things you couldn’t whip before
– like making a mousse with skim milk. Every time a new trend
comes along it reinvigorates people, but it can get overused too.
AT: Where do you see yourself
in 5 - 10 years?
LM: Ultimately I’d like
to have my own place – a dessert bar, a chocolate shop or
a restaurant. In the interim, I’m focusing on being here and
learning to be the best I can be.
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