Dish and Notti Bianche | Washington DC
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Heather Chittum was exposed
to a multitude of diverse cuisines that sparked a deeper interest
in food. Food became a secondary interest for Chittum when she left
New York to study government and international relations at Clark
University. Upon her graduation in 1994, Chittum moved to Washington,
D.C. to work for former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
During her four years working on Capitol Hill, Chittum developed
a particular interest in fighting poverty and hunger, which led
her to her next job working for Share our Strength, a national non-profit
organization dedicated to ending hunger. SOS introduced Chittum
to some of the most influential chefs in the United States, and
inspired Chittum to revisit her longtime passion for cooking and
translate it into a career.
In 2001, Chittum enrolled in the Fundamentals of Pastry Arts program
at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland where she worked
alongside Equinox’s acclaimed Pastry Chef Lisa Scruggs.
Three years later, Chittum was appointed pastry chef for Circle
Bistro, Dish and, soon after, Notti Bianche,
which opened in May 2005.
In November 2005, Chittum was tapped to become the pastry chef at
Michel Richard’s Citronelle, where she worked under
the mentorship of Richard, who himself spent fifteen years as a
pastry chef. Chittum’s fast-growing prestige was duly recognized
by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington when she
was nominated for the 2006 Pastry Chef of the Year. In
May 2006, Chittum returned to her position as pastry chef at Dish
and Notti Bianche, where she currently works alongside
her husband, Executive Chef Anthony Chittum.
Chittum enjoys building simple desserts that play with sweet and
savory seasonal ingredients from local farmers. In dishes like her
Big City ‘Smores, the architectural sensibility learned from
mentor Richard, and the simple, homey appeal of Lisa Scruggs, come
together in a playful recreation of the American campfire snack.
A shot glass of milk is presented next to a sophisticated tower
of bittersweet chocolate and fluff mousse, marshmallow, and buttery
AB: What restaurants that you
have worked in as a pastry chef have been the most influential?
HC: I started at Equinox
working with Todd Gray and Pastry Chef Lisa Scruggs for four years,
whose style of uncomplicated desserts was very influential. Michel
Richard, at Citronelle, was extremely influential as well.
The man is an architect and an outstanding Chef.
AB: What was
your Baking and Pastry training?
HC: I studied at L’Academie
de Cuisine once a week for twenty weeks in their Fundamentals of
Pastry Arts course but other than that didn’t receive any
AB: Have you
won any awards?
HC: I was nominated for the
Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s Pastry
Chef of the Year.
AB: What pastry
or kitchen tools can’t you live without? Why?
HC: My offset spatula is a
workhorse. I use it for leveling, transferring, plating and making
tuiles. I also cannot live without The Container Store for unusual
molds and ideas.
AB: What are
your favorite ingredients?
HC: I love anything with caramel
or fruit. A perfectly ripe peach is so sweet and delicious -- you
can’t make it any better.
AB: What are
your top three tips for dessert success?
HC: Be passionate and love
what you’re doing. Taste everything. Trust no one. Don’t
be afraid to try new things.
AB: Who are
your mentors/pastry heroes?
HC: I would love to sit down
and talk with Claudia Fleming. She’s everything I could aspire
AB: What are
your favorite desserts?
HC: I like fruit desserts like
a perfect apple pie. I like to make fruit tarts using very fresh
fruit and very little processing.
AB: What trends
do you see emerging in pastry arts?
HC: A lot of gelées
and using typically savory ingredients in pastry applications.
do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
HC: I’d like to open
a small unpretentious restaurant with my husband.
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