Providence on the Plate

by Meha Desai
Antoinette Bruno
April 2014



Pastry Chef David Rodriguez uses a unified color palette on each plate at Providence in Los Angeles, and employs shapes and textures to complement, contrast, and accentuate the hues—creating scenes and flavor profiles that cry out for your spoon. His naturalistic compositions, with their heightened sense of artistic awareness, call to mind rarefied landscapes. There are no superfluous details in Rodriguez’s world, and his simultaneously hyper-creative and straightforward approach speaks to the time he spent training with pastry wonders Jordan Kahn and Adrien Vasquez. Rodriguez has taken his training and made it all his own, giving diners some of the most striking, beautiful plates in L.A.

Crème Fraîche, Sable Breton Financier, Chestnut Jam, and Vanilla Mousse

This playful dessert is Rodriguez's winter fantasy, a mingling of clean, subtle flavors and not so subtle textures. Living up to its namesake, his Mont Blanc is reminiscent of a glacier, with meringue crevices and mousse overhangs. It's built in layers-at the very bottom is the sablé Breton with chestnut jam. The financier rests inside a crème fraîche mousse shell. At the center is vanilla mousse with vanilla meringue chards jutting out. Just to the side, is a superb quenelle of crème fraîche sorbet.

Yogurt Semifreddo, Green Grapes, Green Melon Sorbet, Shiso, Finger Lime, and White Chocolate Pearls

This presentation is soft, curvy, and naturalistic. The gently tart flavors complement the muted hues of white and green, and it's refreshing to the eyes and palate. Four semifreddo domes are topped with three to four sliced grapes. Finger limes and white chocolate pearls are sprinkled on top. A quenelle of melon sorbet sits to one side. Shiso leaves add movement. The visual affect is as elegant as the flavors are delicate.

Citrus: Carrot Sorbet, White Chocolate, Bergamot Curd, Angels Food, and Shortbread

"I like to start off with one component and go from there," says Rodriguez. In this case, it's the citrus that serves as his jumping off point, landing in an array of vibrant colors. Rodriguez's strength is in his restraint. The orange on the plate is bold but not garish, neatly reigned in by the subtlety of the bergamot curd. The bergamot oil in the angels food cake adds another layer to the flavor profile, while the satsuma and bergamot gel push the citrus notes forward. The vanilla shortbread and white chocolate add sweetness to counter the acidity, and baby carrot chips and a dusting of dehydrated carrot and sugar complete the plates color story and add a boost of texture. The visual effect, evocative of a Mars terrain, invites you down a rabbit hole of science-gastronomic fiction, where all senses are gratified beyond complaint.

Dulce Cremeux: Spiced Genoise, Candied Sunchoke, Fried Sunchoke, Sunchoke Ice cream, and Cocao Nibs

The depth of flavor on this plate is matched by its aesthetic earthiness. Its organic sensuality makes the presentation daring yet elegant. The extravagant, intricate plating matches the bold, unusual flavors that unexpectedly come together here. Rodriguez's attention to detail is impeccable and makes for a rare treat, with sunchokes that look like mushrooms and a decadent dulce crémeux. He begins with the pear genoise, then pipes the dulce crémeux on the left half. He adds pieces of candied sunchoke on top of the crémeux, then generously tops that with cocoa nibs. Sunchoke chips follow and a quenelle of sunchoke ice cream is the final touch. 

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