Letter from the Editor: Welcome to the L.A. Pastry Mother Lode Vol: 110

April 2014

Los Angeles has hit the pastry mother lode, and we’re loving every sweet bite. From the high-concept to the down-home rustic, from Southern twangs to Japanese inflections, and small online enterprises to the big business of pastry the City of Angles is hitting its stride. Sherry Yard, the queen of West Coast pastry for the last 20 years, attributes much of the thriving L.A. pastry scene to long-standing industry veterans who have remained in kitchens, actively mentoring the next generation of chefs. And we’d bet that most L.A. pastry chefs are linked to Yard and/or fellow veteran Nancy Silverton by only one or two degrees of separation.

The excitement also has a lot to do with the constant infusion of new ideas and perspectives—with a range spanning the art-filled, naturalistic platings of Providence’s David Rodriguez and Sarah Lange’s homey Mississippi Mud Cake and Lemon Ice Box Pie. L.A. (more than most markets) is supporting prodigious, boundary-pushing pastry talent à la Rodriguez, 2010 Rising Star Jordan Khan, and recent East Coast transplant and Rising Star Chris Ford, who’s now at Bouchon. But it’s also fully embracing the grandma dessert. Whether it’s Lange at The Hart and the Hunter, Kei Okumura and her superlative scones at Sugarbird Sweets & Teas, or the Pork and Peas Pie from Gjelina’s Nicole Rucker, old school and Southern are decidedly L.A.-hip.

Hip or not, Kei Hasegawa is bringing to diners the intriguing flavors and textures of Japanese pastry. At Matsuhisa, he blends Japanese tradition with French technique and an American sensibility to create something that is entirely L.A. Hasegawa is fearlessly, joyously constructing trends all his own.

Los Angeles also plays host to a critical mass of successful pastry businesses, proving that pastry chefs have staying power beyond fine dining. Yard is opening up a bakery-restaurant-mexaplex, Helm’s Bakery, this year. Ramon Perez, creator of Puur Chocolat, has plans for a retail storefront downtown. John Park is funneling his prodigious talents into a neighborhood ice cream shop. As owner of Quenelle in Burbank, he’s churning top notch frozen treats in wild flavors like Kecap Manis and Mushroom Caramel. And Carlos Enriquez has the power to influence (and feed) the greatest number of L.A. diners through his post as Patina Restaurant Group’s corporate pastry chef. He oversees such outposts as Patina, Leatherby’s Café Rouge, and Pinot Provence, among another 20-plus casual concepts he directs.

Make no mistake. The Los Angeles of 2014 is among the greatest cities in the country for pastry. There’s elegance, art, technique, tradition, and enough homey goodness to make us want to get on a plane packing nothing but stretch pants and flowing dresses. Pastry chefs here are delivering a sugar high no red eye can crush, and we’re thrilled to tempt you with it in this issue. 

Antoinette Bruno