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Downsizing Desserts with Pastry Chef Meg Galus

by Kathleen Culliton
Antoinette Bruno
January 2011

Price Comparison:

Parisian Miniature Dessert: $3 per piece
Parisian Miniature Desserts Sampler Platter: $12
Dessert a la Carte: $10

Parisian Miniature Dessert Recipes:

Brioche Beignets with Crunchy Praline Filling
Chef Meg Galus of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel - Chicago, IL

Maple Panna Cotta, Cranberry Compote, and Oat-Maple-Hazelnut Streusel
Chef Meg Galus of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel - Chicago, IL

Pistachio Macaron and Whipped White Chocolate Ganache
Chef Meg Galus of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel - Chicago, IL

Pumpkin Crémeux, Malted Caramel, Caramel Corn, and Vanilla Chantilly
Chef Meg Galus of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel - Chicago, IL

Valrhona Dark Chocolate Mousse
Chef Meg Galus of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel - Chicago, IL

Parisian Mini Desserts

Where?

Café des Architectes
Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel
20 East Chestnut Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 324-4063
www.sofitel.com

What?

After lunch at Café des Architectes, the chic French bistro at the Sofitel Hotel in Chicago, a waiter threads between tables, catching the attention of pretty much every diner in the room. It’s not his butt they’re checking out. It’s his beignets.

In Chicago, where the competition in pastry is fierce, it takes more than talent for a pastry chef to be recognized as being a cut above. You’ve got to want it. With her bright eyes and brisk, feminine manner, Sofitel Hotel Pastry Chef Meg Galus radiates the energy vital to any pastry chef. Recently wooed away from TRU, a small yet progressive French restaurant famed for pushing the limits, Galus now faces the daily challenge of running a hotel pastry program, all the while keeping her chin up. Not only must she provide stellar desserts to the sophisticated, international crowd drawn to the hotel, she’s got to do it on a budget.Pastry Chef Meg Galus

“There has been a definite push to streamline production,” admits Galus. Lucky for her, one of the most popular desserts at Café des Architectes is also the most recession friendly. Each day, a variety of Parisian Miniature Desserts is passed around the restaurant for guests to choose by the piece. Priced at a mere $3, patrons feel they’ve gotten a deal, and the restaurant doesn’t fair badly either. Gallus draws these petite sweets from the batters of other desserts, and by tweaking their form or fruit accompaniment, she pares down morning batter production, cuts down on heaps of ingredients, and saves hours of prep.

An added plus, updating the miniature desserts keeps Galus thinking creatively and pragmatically. Each morning she checks out the walk-in to see what’s in stock and creates new miniatures. The miniature desserts that come from the morning’s think-session will be plated along with classics like macarons and Paris Brests to round out the selection. Beyond cutting down on waste, this routine transforms the restaurant into Galus’s own personal test kitchen. If the new miniatures sell on the floor, she knows she’s got a keeper that can eventually grace the dessert menu—in larger form.

Cafe des ArchitectesHowever it fares, a dessert’s appearance on the Parisian Miniature Dessert tray is nothing to be sneered at. “This is something we’re really known for,” says Galus. The novelty of the miniature dessert—a booming trend in street-food venues—intrigues both Chicago locals and the hotel’s slew of international guests. “People request them at all hours, at nine in the morning and nine at night.” Galus’s sweets are small and light, keeping dessert relevant—and welcome—at every meal. Is that profitable? “For sure.”