Len DePas Photography


Heather Chittum
Notti Bianche
824 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 298-8085

924 25th Street NW
Washington DC, 20037
(888) 874-0100

Recipe »

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.

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Heather Chittum
Dish and Notti Bianche | Washington DC

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Heather Chittum was exposed to a multitude of diverse cuisines that sparked a deeper interest in food. Food became a secondary interest for Chittum when she left New York to study government and international relations at Clark University. Upon her graduation in 1994, Chittum moved to Washington, D.C. to work for former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. During her four years working on Capitol Hill, Chittum developed a particular interest in fighting poverty and hunger, which led her to her next job working for Share our Strength, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger. SOS introduced Chittum to some of the most influential chefs in the United States, and inspired Chittum to revisit her longtime passion for cooking and translate it into a career.

In 2001, Chittum enrolled in the Fundamentals of Pastry Arts program at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland where she worked alongside Equinox’s acclaimed Pastry Chef Lisa Scruggs. Three years later, Chittum was appointed pastry chef for Circle Bistro, Dish and, soon after, Notti Bianche, which opened in May 2005.

In November 2005, Chittum was tapped to become the pastry chef at Michel Richard’s Citronelle, where she worked under the mentorship of Richard, who himself spent fifteen years as a pastry chef. Chittum’s fast-growing prestige was duly recognized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington when she was nominated for the 2006 Pastry Chef of the Year. In May 2006, Chittum returned to her position as pastry chef at Dish and Notti Bianche, where she currently works alongside her husband, Executive Chef Anthony Chittum.

Chittum enjoys building simple desserts that play with sweet and savory seasonal ingredients from local farmers. In dishes like her Big City ‘Smores, the architectural sensibility learned from mentor Richard, and the simple, homey appeal of Lisa Scruggs, come together in a playful recreation of the American campfire snack. A shot glass of milk is presented next to a sophisticated tower of bittersweet chocolate and fluff mousse, marshmallow, and buttery tart shell.

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Interview Cont'd
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.

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   Published: October 2006