Finalist Pastry Profile: Chef de Cuisine Ian Gresik of Drago Centro

Finalist Pastry Profile: Chef de Cuisine Ian Gresik of Drago Centro
December 2010

Ian Gresik’s culinary career has been an unusual one in the industry; he’s gone back and forth between pastry and savory roles in kitchens across the US and abroad. His lifelong culinary passion began at early age in his native Southern California where he attended the California School of Culinary Arts and graduated at the top of his class.

Gresik worked his way up to become the pastry chef at Patina Restaurant in Los Angeles, where he lent his keen eye and creative artistry to the restaurant’s signature, decadent desserts. He then worked his way up the savory ladder to become the sous chef.

The expertise Gresik cultivated at Patina earned him a job as a professional food consultant for the JBS Consulting Services group. He followed that with a European sabbatical where he studied the rich culinary traditions and techniques of Italy, France, Greece, and Spain. Particularly inspired by his last stage in the Basque region of Spain, Gresik sought to apply the tremendous skills he learned abroad back home and returned to Los Angeles.

Now at Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles, Gresik is able to contribute over ten years of experience in all facets of cooking as the chef de cuisine—but he still likes to dabble on the sweet side.

Pastry Competition Interview with Chef de Cuisine Ian Gresik of Drago Centro - Los Angeles, CA

Francoise Villeneuve: How did you prepare for the competition?
Ian Gresik: Cooking a five course dinner for 30 people in our chef’s room. 1st course: foie gras; 2nd course: truffle risotto; 3rd course: diver scallop; 4th course veal cheek; 5th course: panna cotta.

FV: What was the inspiration behind the pre-dessert?
IG: A version of my favorite spring flavor, strawberry.

FV: Tell me about your plated dessert.
IG: It was a version of my classic chocolate terrine—the dessert that gets ordered the most in the restaurant.

FV: What was it like preparing an entremet for a pastry competition? Is that something you’ve done before?
IG: Well, making the entremets is something we do often at the restaurant. The show piece wasn’t though.

FV: Anything turn out differently than you envisaged? Did the products you had to use behave the way you thought they would?
IG: Yes, a lot of things had to be changed on “the fly,” but everyone had to do so. The products were different than what I planned for. Like the cheese had a higher fat content then the one I normally used so the cheese ice cream had to be adjusted.

FV: What was your favorite moment from the pastry competition?
IG: The begging, when I was plaiting and had all the judges looking at my plate.

FV: Were you nervous when you heard who the judges would be?
IG: No, but very excited to be involved in the process.

FV: What advice would you give a pastry chef interested in entering next year’s International Pastry Competition?
IG: Bring your own ingredients, so you aren’t taking a subway to a far off market, to buy basic ingredients.

FV: What’s one thing you would have done differently?
IG: Planned out a show piece. Instead of thinking that making something on the fly would be a good idea.

FV: What do you think a pastry competition showcases in its competitors? What strengths came out? What weaknesses?
IG: I think the people you could handle the pressure did better. Being a leader to change ideas or products with out a recipe. Making good food by taste not a recipe.

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