2016 South Florida Rising Star Pastry Chef Megan Pidgeon of Glazed Donuts

2016 South Florida Rising Star Pastry Chef Megan Pidgeon of Glazed Donuts
April 2016

Megan Pidgeon and her husband Jonathan own the southernmost doughnut shop in the contiguous United States. But they met much farther north, in chilly Hyde Park, New York, as students at the Culinary Institute of America. While studying baking and pastry arts management, Pidgeon accepted a chance to work with chef, instructor, and preeminent pastry guru Francisco Migoya at The Apple Pie Bakery and Café—a powerful, hands-on learning experience for the aspiring chef.

From there, Pidgeon kept her hands in flour, staging for James Beard Award-winning chefs Richard Leech of Park Avenue Café and Nicole Plue of Redd in Napa. In 2010, she traveled east for a position at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, where she learned about cheese production.

Later that year, the warmer climate of Key West called, and Pidgeon and her now-husband Jonathan took their talents to Fin and Blackfi n Bistro, respectively. They might have remained in restaurant kitchens—and the Keys might have remained tragically doughnut-less—but the Pidgeons noticed a dearth of options for pastry chefs in the area. Th ey took it upon themselves to solve the problem by opening their own shop, Glazed Donuts. At Glazed, Pidgeon makes some of the fi nest artisan doughnut in the region and expresses the fresh, bright, local flavors of the Keys.  

Interview with South Florida Rising Star Pastry Megan Pidgeon of Glazed Donuts

Lisa Elbert: How did you get your start?
Megan Pidgeon:
Cooking was how I got out of cleaning the house. My grandmother would come once a week to our house to visit, and it was either help her cook or clean, and cooking seemed more fun. I decided I really enjoyed baking so I got a couple of jobs before school as a prep cook, just peeling veg, that sort of thing. Then I went to CIA, and that’s where I got the majority of my experience. I had my externship with Richard Leech at Park Avenue Cafe. Then I worked for Francisco Migoya at the bakery on campus while I did the bachelors part of the program. Then I moved to California. My first job was working at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, and then in Napa at Redd under Nicole Plue for about two years. I kind of quit the restaurant industry to become a cheesemaker in Vermont. I was working for Jasper Hill Farms, and I visited my now husband in Key West, and realized I wanted to be near him. So I opened a pastry shop, a sister restaurant to where he was working at the time. 

LE: Who’s your mentor?
I guess I would say the person I talked to the most would be Chef Migoya. He gave me a lot of really great advice while I was working in culinary school, and once I left, any time I had any questions, I would always call him.

LE: How many different doughs do you make for your doughnuts?
We have 12 doughnut flavors on the menu, and 9 of them are our signature. I used to have 4 seasonal doughnuts, but then I came up with our Sticky Knot, and I was told by customers, and my husband, that I’m not allowed to take it off the menu. But we like to have 12 because people like to order them by the dozen. And you never want it to be the same thing all the time, so I try to switch it up and have a little bit of something for everybody.

LE: What’s the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
There just aren’t enough hours in the day. We’re just growing, so it’s just getting a lot of little things done that need to be done all at the same time. We’re actually in the process of starting a coffee roasting program in our shop called Red Buouy. We’re currently training our coffee roaster. That’s probably our biggest challenge, starting a roasting company in the middle of a doughnut shop. We have equipment being built, and we have an employee that spent time in Guatemala at a coffee roastery, so he has the majority of the experience. We’ll have two storefront windows—in one you’ll see someone glazing doughnuts and in the other you’ll see someone roasting coffee.

LE: What’s your five-year plan?
 We’re in the process of our next steps with Red Buouy. And basically after that, it’s just growing and adding more employees so we don’t have to work seven days a week. My goal is to one day work only six days a week.