Wild (Savory) Flavor
If 2011 saw a more timid hand when it came to wild creativity (in part appeasing the creature comforts of smaller markets), 2012 showed signs of sweet creative recovery. More than ever before, pastry chefs are looking toward completely unexpected savory influences in their menus, continuing to push the boundaries of flavor and what defines dessert while still appealing to the nostalgic, emotional connection we have to food. Savory flavors played a major role during the 3rd Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition, with desserts like Christina Kaelberer’s Avocado-Lime Sorbet with Cilantro Meringue; Kasra Ajdari’s Tom Kha Gai Semifreddo; and Luis Villavelazquez’s Fig Panna Cotta with Red Hawk Cheese Crumble. 2010 New York Rising Star Angela Pinkerton put savory flavors at the forefront of her 2012 ICC workshop on nostalgia and desserts, creating a spin on pretzels and mustard, while Pastry Chef Stephanie Prida offers her own mustard variation at Los Gatos’ Manresa, combining a peppery ice cream with tomato jam and chocolate ganache. And at William Werner’s must-visit San Francisco patisserie Crafstman & Wolves, savory flavors end up in a variety of surprising options: Buffalo Wing Madeleines come alongside blue cheese dipping sauce, and kimchi is folded into financier cake.