Mary Edinger Transitions From Fine Dining to To-go Pastry

By Amelia Schwartz | Will Blunt

By

Amelia Schwartz
Will Blunt
Pastry Chef Mary Edinger formerly of Season To Taste
Pastry Chef Mary Edinger formerly of Season To Taste

“If we had known we wouldn’t be returning as a team, we would have lingered longer in the back alley over beers and cigarettes. Instead, our team has tried to come to terms with our closure over Zoom calls, seeing each other’s faces by the blue light of the computer screen. This is not nearly as poetic as sitting on a circle of milk crates, in the dark, after service—shooting the shit until a delivery guy shows up and someone realizes it’s 4AM,” says Pastry Chef and Baker Mary Edinger**.
 
On Tuesday, March 24th, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that non-essential businesses, including restaurants, had to close their doors to customers. On May 8th, fine-dining restaurant and caterer, The Table at Season To Taste, announced they would close their doors, permanently. “When we shut down for what we thought would be two weeks back in March, we left all our tools wrapped up in the kitchen,” Edinger says. 
 
Dejected, she kept cooking. As the only Season To Taste employee who worked for both the restaurant and catering aspects of the business, Edinger made it out of The Table’s closure with a job, albeit, a very different one. With large gatherings prohibited and offices closed, Season To Taste rebranded as Season To Go. 
 
“I’ve stayed on with this newly branded branch of the company, making desserts for the to-go menu at night and being a one woman bakery on the weekends, doing breakfast pastries out the front door of the old restaurant space.”
 
Edinger’s day-to-day has been overhauled. The narrow, seasonal prix-fixe dessert menu and experimental bread service is now an ongoing list of approachable baked goods: chocolate layer cakes, peanut butter cookies, and sourdough boules. Her schedule, which used to have her in the kitchen after dark, now has Edinger coming in early, and leaving before 3pm. 
 
The clientele has also changed, with most orders coming from local folks who happen upon Season To Go while scrolling through their delivery apps. Edinger feels isolated. She misses the hustle and camaraderie of the open kitchen and the company of her fellow cooks. Even so, she’s been able to tap into what made her fall in love with baking in the first place. 
 
“It’s stuff that I haven’t done in a while. It’s making muffins or brioche pastries or galettes or turnovers. I’m able to do something different and homey.” After a morning of baking, Edinger can poke her head out the door, suited with gloves and a mask, to sell passersby coffee and pastries. For her, it’s a welcome social interaction, contrasting sharply with the experience of handing off a packaged meal to a delivery person on a bike who rides off into the distance.
 
Although Edinger and Season To Taste have been through the ringer, they experimented, adapted, and learned. In July, the team decided to reopen their dine-in space (outside only, for now) as a casual gastropub. “[Chef and Owner Robert Harris] was feeling like people weren’t going to go for that more fine-dining atmosphere in the wake of all this and wanted to do something more accessible and neighborhood friendly at a lower price point,” Edinger says.
 
Still, she has hope for the future of fine dining. “People will want to celebrate. People will want to eat something that they didn't cook themselves or reheat and assemble from take-out boxes. People will want to feel taken care of.” And Edinger will be able to sit on a milk crate and bond with coworkers again, until the sun rises. 

**Update: As of the day of publishing, Mary Edinger is the Pastry Chef of Bar Mezzana and Black Lamb

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