2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Sarah Malphrus of Woodberry Kitchen

2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Sarah Malphrus of Woodberry Kitchen
December 2014

Sarah Malphrus began working in restaurant kitchens in high school and continued while she attended Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina with a pastry post at Sage Café. A keen home baker, her time in restaurants coupled with her passion for baking ultimately set her on the path to a professional pastry career.

After graduating college, Malphrus returned to her home town of Charleston, South Carolina, where she landed a job as pastry chef at Husk and worked with Sean Brock to develop a dessert menu that shared his commitment to sourcing regional products. After working with Brock for a year and a half, Malphrus moved on to New York City, where she further honed her skills while working as pastry sous chef of ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina.

Now based in Baltimore, Maryland, Malphrus is pastry chef for all of Spike Gjerde’s restaurants: Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact Coffee, Shoo-Fly, and Parts & Labor. With a career thus far devoted in equal parts to technique and community sourcing, Malphrus is a natural fit to lead the pastry department at Gjerde’s group of eateries, which are distinguished by their dedication to supporting local agriculture that respects the abundance and traditions of the Mid-Atlantic region.



Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Sarah Malphrus of Woodberry Kitchen

MD: What are you most proud of in your career?
SM:
Getting to be a part of Woodberry and this amazing thing Spike is doing. I'm proud of that.

MD: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your career?
SM:
Having to leave New York! I was at ABC for one year and at Husk for a year and a half. I knew it was a good place to be for my career, but the city just wasn’t for me. Deciding to leave NYC was difficult; then I  had a very serendipitous meeting with Spike at Charleston Food & Wine. 

MD: Have you had a mentor?
SM:
Yes, Melody Lee at ABC Kitchen. She pushed me to constantly hone my recipes and techniques and to be a better leader for my kitchen. She was just amazing to work for. 

MD: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
SM:
I just moved here two and a half months ago. Spike has helped me get a strong foothold in the culinary community, pushing me to show what I've got. If we have dinners here, he always makes sure I get to do a course. 

MD: Who do you consider your pastry peers?
SM:
Katie Boyd and Melissa Denmark. I think they're both amazing pastry chefs.

MD: Describe your pastry in one sentence.
SM:
Approachable and simple, but a little quirky. 

MD: What are your top three pastry tips?
SM:
(1) Stay calm: Most days something is going to go wrong. I always try to keep a clear focus and stay calm at all times and not freak out. (2) Know your science: Know how everything works when you're baking, tempering chocolate, cooking eggs etc. That way when something goes wrong, you can troubleshoot and know how to fix it. (3) Always experiment: Research other pastry chefs, looking for how you can learn from them and bounce off their ideas. I spend a lot of time on Instagram and ChefSteps—they just had big classes on ice cream making and candy making. I’m also a big fan of the one spoon quenelle. 

MD: What's your five-year plan?
SM:
I want to stay with Spike for a long time. I've only been with him for two and a half months, but he's already such a mentor. He's my chef. He makes me want to do better. In five years, I see myself still working with him, gearing toward ultimate culinary success. I’d like to have my own place eventually—a little shop, nothing too crazy, somewhere on the East Coast, Philly, Baltimore, D.C.—I love this area.