Interview with Pastry Chef Heather Chittum of Dish and Notti Bianche – Washington, D.C.

Heather Chittum

Antoinette Bruno: What is you philosophy on pastry?
Heather Chittum: I like to use seasonal, fresh and local produce. With great ingredients, it’s best to prepare them simply and let them shine. I also think food should be beautiful, but taste is paramount.

AB: What restaurants that you have worked in as a pastry chef have been the most influential?
HC: I started at Equinox working with Todd Gray and Pastry Chef Lisa Scruggs for four years, whose style of uncomplicated desserts was very influential. Michel Richard, at Citronelle, was extremely influential as well. The man is an architect and an outstanding Chef.

AB: What was your Baking and Pastry training?
HC: I studied at L’Academie de Cuisine once a week for twenty weeks in their Fundamentals of Pastry Arts course but other than that didn’t receive any formal training.

AB: Have you won any awards?
HC: I was nominated for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s Pastry Chef of the Year.

AB: What pastry or kitchen tools can’t you live without? Why?
HC: My offset spatula is a workhorse. I use it for leveling, transferring, plating and making tuiles. I also cannot live without The Container Store for unusual molds and ideas.

AB: What are your favorite ingredients?
HC: I love anything with caramel or fruit. A perfectly ripe peach is so sweet and delicious -- you can’t make it any better.

AB: What are your top three tips for dessert success?
HC: Be passionate and love what you’re doing. Taste everything. Trust no one. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

AB: Who are your mentors/pastry heroes?
HC: I would love to sit down and talk with Claudia Fleming. She’s everything I could aspire to be.

AB: What are your favorite desserts?
HC: I like fruit desserts like a perfect apple pie. I like to make fruit tarts using very fresh fruit and very little processing.

AB: What trends do you see emerging in pastry arts?
HC: A lot of gelées and using typically savory ingredients in pastry applications.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
HC: I’d like to open a small unpretentious restaurant with my husband.