BLUE SMOKE | New York
Jennifer Giblin is the Pastry Chef at the urban barbecue
restaurant, Blue Smoke, and its sister jazz club, Jazz
Standard. Despite her passion for baking, Giblin once had a
different career in mind. Born in Houston and raised in Tucson,
she graduated from the University of Arizona in 1994 with a degree
in psychology. She planned on becoming a police officer –
but at the last minute changed her mind and entered cooking school
at Le Cordon Bleu in London in 1997.
Giblin’s culinary career began when she worked
for her in-law’s catering business cooking pastries. Prior
to joining Blue Smoke, Giblin worked at two other Union
Square Hospitality Group restaurants – she began as a cook
at Tabla, where she worked for two years, and she then
spent a year at Eleven Madison Park, where she baked cakes
for events held in the private dining rooms. The cakes were such
a success that Giblin started a cake-baking business on the side
before returning to Tabla in the position of Pastry Sous
Since joining Blue Smoke in 2003, she has
perfected home-style desserts such as sticky toffee pudding, banana
cream pie, seasonal fruit crisps, orange sugar dusted donuts and
rich chocolate layer cake. Every item in Giblin’s desserts
is freshly made, from the graham crackers in her pie crusts to the
ice creams in her shakes and floats, to the coconut fillings in
her layer cakes.
MM: Where did you complete
your Baking and Pastry training?
JG: I went to the Le Cordon
Bleu in London for culinary arts because I was from Arizona and
I really wanted to live abroad, plus it was a great school.
MM: Do you think
that culinary education is a necessity?
JG: Yes and no, as one can
learn from an apprenticeship as well as from school, and nothing
beats real world experience. It’s always a good idea to work
a bit before going to culinary school, so that you get the most
out of it.
MM: What pastry
tools can’t you live without?
JG: There are so many! My microplane
is indispensable for zesting and shaving, and I use my scraper for
MM: What are
your favorite ingredients?
JG: Salt! Trendy or not, salt
is necessary for balancing taste, as is acid. Buttermilk is another.
MM: What are
your top three tips for dessert success?
JG: First and foremost, taste
everything, and at every stage of the cooking. I learned this from
the savory kitchen. Second, limit yourself when mixing flavors.
And third, aim for balance and contrast, in textures, flavors, and
MM: What are
your favorite desserts?
JG: I like fruit desserts,
like a homey, simple, bubbling fruit pie.
MM: What trends
do you see emerging in pastry arts?
JG: I think the trend might
veer towards less experimental, less manipulated ingredients and
a concentration on their pure flavor and state.
MM: Where to
you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
JG: I am very excited to be
a part of the growth with Blue Smoke. I can also see myself
owning and running a small dessert shop one day.
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