Kenneth Magana
Bellagio Spa Tower
3600 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8546


Antoinette Bruno: What is your philosophy on pastry?
Kenneth Magana: Simple but elegant. Crisp, recognizable flavors. If it is strawberries, it should taste like strawberries.

AB: Where did you train?
KM: Joliet Junior College, Illinois.

AB: What pastry or kitchen tools can’t you live without?
KM: Offset serrated knife – it cuts really crisp, makes a lot of things easier.

AB: What are your favorite ingredients?
KM: Any fruit that’s in season. This summer season it’s strawberries, cherries, apricots, and peaches. Plus chocolate. I love working with it and infusing flavor.

AB: What are your top three tips for dessert success?
KM: 1) Taste. 2) Texture. 3) Temperature.

AB: Who are your mentors/pastry heros?
KM: Christophe Ithurritze at Spiaggia in Chicago. He gave me my first shot and taught me all the pastry basic and management. Also Ferrán Adrià’s brother, Albert.

AB: What are your favorite desserts?
KM: I like lighter desserts. I always love brulée.

AB: What trends do you see emerging in pastry arts?
KM: Savory herbs in pastry. Incorporating savory techniques into pastry as well.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
KM: I will probably still be here in Vegas. I’ve been here already 6 years. I will go where the opportunity takes me though. I want to be regarded as one of the best in this field.


Kenneth Magana
SENSI | Las Vegas

What happens when you let a math and chemistry nerd loose in the kitchen? The answer for Kenny Magana is a life-altering experience. This 33-year-old native of Chicago discovered his love for the culinary arts and got his start at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Chicago before moving to Las Vegas with pastry positions first at The Mirage and then at Postrio in the Venetian Hotel. Magana’s latest post is at Sensi, the Bellagio Hotel’s newest restaurant. His approach to his work is indeed scientific – Magana finds the transformative nature of cooking especially engaging, and he pays careful attention to the crucial qualities of texture and temperature.

Drinkable Apple Pie à la Mode
Pastry Chef Kenny Magana of Sensi at the Bellagio Resort & Casino –
Las Vegas, NV
Adapted by

Yield: 24 Servings


    Calvados Caramel Apples:
  • 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 10 ounces cold water
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ liter Calvados apple brandy
    Cinnamon Ice Cream:
  • 1 ½ quarts milk
  • 1 ½ quarts heavy cream
  • 10 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pound + 5 ounces sugar
  • 22 egg yolks
    Caramel Sauce:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 ½ ounces corn syrup
  • 1 ¼ pounds sugar
    Pie Dough:
  • 12 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 6 grams salt
  • 12 grams vanilla sugar
  • 8 grams ground cinnamon
  • 6 ounces cold butter, cubed
  • 2 ounces shortening
  • 4 ounces water
    Caramel Panna Cotta:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 10 ½ ounces sugar
  • 3 ½ ounces corn syrup
  • 5 sheets gelatin, bloomed
    For Serving:
  • 24 ounces apple cider

For Caramel Apples:

Cut apples into 16 equal pieces. Place in half hotel pan and reserve. Dissolve sugar with cold water and cream of tartar. Place in saucepot over stove. Cook until desired caramel color is achieved. Mix water and Calvados. Use mixture to deglaze caramel. Pour caramel over apples. Marinate 1 day in the refrigerator.

For Ice Cream:
In saucepot combine milk, heavy cream, cinnamon sticks and half of sugar. Bring to a boil, remove from heat. Cover with plastic and steep for 2-4 hours. Combine remaining sugar with yolks. Reheat milk and cream mixture, temper in yolks, cook until mixture coats back of spoon. Add salt to taste. Strain and cool. Pour into ice cream machine and spin. Reserve in freezer.

For Caramel Sauce:
Combine cream and butter in saucepot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Meanwhile, in a 2 quart saucepot combine corn syrup and sugar. Cook on medium-high heat until caramelized. Pour cream and butter mixture slowly into caramel, whisking constantly. Add salt to taste. Once all of cream is combined with caramel, reserve in warm place and transfer to squeeze bottle.

For Pie Dough:
Preheat oven to 325° F. In mixer fitted with dough hook, combine all dry ingredients, butter and shortening. Mix on medium speed until mixture crumbles to the touch. Add water, mix until dough comes together. Let cool in refrigerator. Roll out thin and bake in oven until golden brown. Let cool. Process baked dough in Robo Coupe.

For Panna Cotta:
In saucepot combine vanilla bean, milk, and cream and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, in large saucepot combine sugar and corn syrup. Cook to golden caramel color. Add cream mixture to caramel in slow stream, whisking constantly. Once all of cream and sugar are combined, strain and add gelatin.

To Assemble and Serve:
Fill champagne flute with 1 ounce of apple cider and freeze. Pour thin layer of panna cotta on top of frozen cider and allow to set. Store in refrigerator and allow cider to defrost. It can be held for a couple days. When ready to serve, sprinkle layer of crumbled dough on top of panna cotta. Quickly sauté a portion of the apples, using liquid to deglaze. Portion warm apples on top of crumbled dough, finishing with another layer of dough. Top with ice cream and caramel sauce.

   Published: August 2005