2015 Boston Rising Star Hotel Pastry Chef Michael Daly of Four Seasons Hotel Boston

2015 Boston Rising Star Hotel Pastry Chef Michael Daly of Four Seasons Hotel Boston
March 2015

Originally from Hamden, Connecticut, Michael Daly found cooking as a solution to the long-term problem of adolescence: he was getting in trouble constantly and had issues with day-to-day school work and books. But Daly came from a family that cooked, with a mother and sister who both excelled at baking. One place that he really felt at home and excelled was the kitchen.

Daly attended culinary school, earned an associates degree, and immediately got cooking—on the savory side at first. At Copper Beech Inn, Daly met mentors Tyler Anderson and Tommy Juliano before moving on to Lumière. But Daly found himself drawn to the exactitude, the processes, and sublimely observable results yielded in the pastry kitchen. Looking to definitively shift his career, Daly undertook rigorous stages at restaurants such as L2O in Chicago and Dovetail in New York City.

Landing in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and ready to work, Daly took a position as the pastry chef at Brine and Ceia—led by 2014 Coastal New England Rising Star Restaurateur Nancy Batista-Caswell. There, he was also able to use his pastry and savory skills in tandem to help launch the Caswell Restaurant Group’s 15-course “Culinary Opus Dinner Series.” By the time he arrived at The Four Seasons Hotel Boston, Daly was not only a polished pastry professional, he was fulfilling a career goal, working at the helm of one of the top pastry operations in the city and proving to himself he’d truly found his home.

Interview with Boston Rising Star Hotel Pastry Chef Michael Daly of Four Seasons

Mary Choi: How did you get your start in the industry?
Michael Daly:
I got into a lot of trouble as a kid. I was having trouble with traditional school work and books. My whole family cooks—my mom and sisters bake really well. So, I studied culinary at Newbury College. The first five years of my career were a bit of a blur; I went to Chicago for a stage at L2O and Dovetail in New York. I started savory, but I ended up going for pastry because I like the science of it, and I like seeing the final end result.

MC: Who’s your mentor?
Tyler Anderson. He had to sit me down and tell me about what it took to actually make it in this business. He helped me deal with anger and showed me what it takes to deal with people. I learned about technique and how baking works from Tommy Juliano at Copper Beech—he’s now at Community Table.

MC: What are your top three tips for younger chefs?
Work clean, be patient, and never copy.

MC: Do you think hotel structure has ushered you into a routine that’s made your pastry better? 
Yes, it’s that. Working at the Four Seasons has always been a goal of mine, and to work for a Michelin-starred restaurant. The Four Seasons is the best; and I thought, “If I happen to fail, it might as well be at something that’s on top.”

MC: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
I had a sense that everything had to be new school technique when I first got here. I had to relearn diplomat cream and opera cake. I was nervous when I didn’t have my own circulator here. Some pros about working in hotels are that the budgets are nicer. With the benefits, I can give myself a little bit more free time. If I were at a smaller restaurant, I would pretty much have to live there.

MC: Where do you most want to go for culinary travel?
I want to see London and San Francisco. London is important to me. That’s the goal right now. 

MC: What is your five year plan?
I don’t do five year plans; because, honestly I would have never seen myself here five years ago.