I’m a sweets fiend, an equal opportunity eater of warm chocolate chip cookies, cronuts, and conceptual, stylized pastry. And with all the sugar-packed pastries I’ve eaten over the years, I’ve never been so jazzed about the future of pastry. In the last few months, the StarChefs.com team has witnessed a seismic shift in the way pastry chefs think about desserts. Exciting young talent has abandoned picture-perfect plating, traditional flavor combinations, and even ice cream for a wild, boundary-free exploration into sweets. And to bring it all to you, this February, we introduced Whipped, a regular pastry column by Rising Star Pastry Chef Rebecca Cohen.
In past issues of the Dishrag, we introduced you to Rising Stars Katy Peetz, Matt Tinder, and William Werner, who are all transforming sweets with verve and style. And in this issue, we’ll share with you perspectives and recipes from some of our favorite young pastry chefs on the East and West Coasts. To our great satisfaction, more and more pastry chefs are dipping their mits into savory mise-en-place. We’ve chowed down on a mustard-tomato dessert from Stephanie Prida at Manresa and on a forage-friendly spruce ice cream from Peter Scarola of Philly’s R2L.
Across the globe in Singapore, Janice Wong walks the line between performance artist and pastry chef, shutting down her senses to open her imagination. In addition to running 2:amdessertbar, Wong constructs elaborate, interactive pastry-cum-art-installations. Eggs, sugar, and flower are her medium, and just as pastry visionaries Jordan Kahn and Juan Contreras do, Wong boldly embraces the artist label and dynamically pushes her craft into the future. And Singapore's Andres Lara shows us how Bruce Lee (and a dynamic, diverse culinary community) have taken hold of his imagination.
Not all the exciting pastry we’ve tasted falls under the avant-garde banner. Pastry Chef Melody Lee at New York’s ABC Kitchen elevates classic desserts with her flawless execution, elegance, and finesse. There’s something to be said for perfect pie crust and an incomparable, all-American apple pie.
Pastry isn’t the only place we’re seeing a new approach to sweet. Mixologists Derek Brown and Philip Ward are skipping sugar cubes and syrups and adding sweet complexity by way of Sherry. Somms, too, are strutting down the sweeter side of the street, proffering Austria’s answer to Sauternes, Ruster Ausbruch.
We’re also polishing our sweet tooth for the 8th Annual StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress, where our growing roster of pastry presenters includes Philippe Conticini of Pâtisserie des Rêves, Wong, and Contreras. And we’re pumped to announce competitors for the 4th Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition. The three-day, one-of-a-kind competition is being helmed again by Johnny Iuzzini with an impressive panel of judges: Philippe Conticini, Claudia Fleming, Elizabeth Falkner, Jeffrey Steingarten, Dominique Ansel, Salvatore Martone, and Sam Mason.
We had more applicants (extraordinary applicants!) than ever. Congratulations to this year’s competitors:
Joseph Baker of Le Cordon Bleu – Dallas, TX
Laszlo Bollok of Le Cirque – New York, NY
Ryan Butler of Highlands Restaurant Group – New York, NY
Taria Camerino of Sugar Coated Radical – Atlanta, GA
Giane Cavaliere of Rogue 24 – Washington, D.C.
Baruch Ellsworth of Canlis – Seattle, WA
Bruno Feldeisen of Four Seasons Hotel – Vancouver, BC
Meg Galus of NoMI at Park Hyatt Chicago – Chicago, IL
Monica Glass of Clio – Boston, MA
Sharon Gofreed of Uchi – Houston, TX
Gonzalo Jimenez of Grand Hyatt New York – New York, NY
Yoshikazu Kizu of Ritz Carlton Orlando – Orlando, FL
Katy Peetz of Blanca – NYC
Sean Pera of Herons – Cary, NC
Thomas Raquel of Acadia – Chicago, IL
Mellisa Root of Madera at Rosewood Sandhill – Palo Alto, CA
Peter Scarola of R2L – Philadelphia, PA
Bobby Schaffer of Grace – Chicago, IL
Davina Soondrum of Filter Dining Room – Philadelphia, PA
Jurgen Willems of Oblix at the Shard – London, UK
Jared Bacheller of L'Espalier – Boston, MA
Thiago Silva of EMM Group – New York, NY
Donna Yuen of The Dupont Circle Hotel – Washington, D.C.
The pastry love doesn’t stop here. In the next few months we’ll be tasting with sweet and savory chefs in New England, North Carolina, LA, Nashville, and Louisville. So send us your nominations and get real-time updates on what we’re eating and where by following us on Twitter and Facebook.