Antoinette Bruno: Why did you choose to work in the baking and pastry arts?
Christine Law: I really enjoy the science of baking. It’s very precise.
AB: Which early job position and/or restaurant do you feel was most influential in shaping your pastry style?
CL: The Marriott in Torrence, CA – they had a big pastry shop where they made everything.
AB: Can you talk about your mentors? Which chefs do you consider to be your peers? Which chefs do you most admire?
CL: Janet Rikala Dalton really influenced my style, the importance of taste and the idea that everything on the plate is important and has to have a reason to be there. Less is definitely more.
AB: Are there any unsung ingredients that everyone should know about? What are they?
CL: Salt – if you just add a pinch of salt, flavors come alive, and it helps to juxtapose ingredients.
AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
CL: Instant read thermometers are indispensable. Again, precision is important in pastry, and in ice cream it is totally essential.
AB: Is there a baking and pastry technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
CL: My technique is to mix before heating. I use this for sabayon, ice cream, etc. Instead of whisking over heat, I mix using a mixer first, then heat it.
AB: What are your top 3 tips for pastry success?
CL: The first would be to consider each element of dessert, that it’s fabulous in its own right. The second tip is to remember that sometimes, less is more. And my third tip is that you must start with good products: garbage in, garbage, out.
AB: What advice would you give to aspiring young cooks?
CL: The best advice I got was from Wolfgang Puck, who told me that when creating desserts, always provide different sensations – warm, cool, crunchy and creamy.
AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new pastry cook?
CL: Can you start tonight? Obviously I want them to give notice, but I want to see their enthusiasm, how high they will jump.
AB: Is there a place that you want to travel to for baking and pastry research purposes?
CL: Argentina – they have fabulous ice cream, and that’s what I love.
AB: What are your favorite restaurants for dessert in San Francisco?
CL: Cortez, Frisson, and Farallon.
AB: What trends do you see emerging in the pastry industry right now?
CL: Experimental baking, more scientific. Organic is also a big trend right now.
AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
CL: Running my own ice cream business in a retail setting.