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Sultans of Sweet ichet Ong, a New Yorker who grew up in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore, started his career as the pastry chef at Olives in Boston and Jean Georges and Tabla in New York. At RM, he received unanimous critical acclaim, receiving 3-star reviews in every newspaper in New York City. Since then he has been consulting chef for Jean Georges Vongerichten’s 66 and Spice Market, where his desserts earned him another 3-star review in the New York Times. Pichet is known for creating delicious, innovative desserts that are visually appealing and unusual. Rebuffing the use of sugar and advocating flavor reductions and savory seasonings, he is known for incorporating unique, exotic, and Asian ingredients with familiar ones in creating desserts that appeal to a universal palate. Sam Mason, formerly at wd~50, currently is one of America’s most creative pastry chef. “Jean Louis Palladin was definitely my biggest life mentor,” says Mason of the Haute Cuisine artist. Nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation, he creates experimental desserts using ingredients that aren’t usually associated with desserts. An example? Kalamata olives, because they're really briny. He confits them like you would a cherry or he dehydrates them so they are like candy. He also uses herbs such as cumin and cardamom, and vegetables like celery and onions. What he doesn’t use is garlic. Jehangir Mehta has worked in some of the finest restaurants in New York City, including Jean Georges, Union Pacific, Virot, Compass and Aix, where he works with his culinary soul mate,

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THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE RESTAURANT SCENE, PASTRY CHEFS ARE A SPECIES CLOSE TO EXTINCTION…WITH SOME EXCEPTIONS BY

NATASHA LARDERA

The French are quiet innovative in pairing ingredients - such as chocolate and fruit, or in introducing new ones.

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Bindi, Kingdom of Bliss

“Be adventurous with flavor, but clean and simple,” Pichet Ong says. Photo by The Hermosa Inn

ne of the companies that provide tantalizing bits of Paradise to restaurants and coffeehouses alike, is the Italian-based Bindi Desserts. A name that means quality, creativity, and elegance. Quality is achieved by using the best raw materials available on the market, followed by a meticulous control during the manufacturing process and a careful and reliable distribution service. Creativity is captured by the beautiful and delicious desserts prepared by original pastry masters. Elegance is the style that characterizes all Bindi’s products, fascinating in every detail…even the smallest. All of this would not be possible without the passion that is the core of the company’s philosophy. Their longtime success is based on Bindi’s mission to be an innovative and a professional partner for the restaurant business worldwide. Cakes, gelatos and sorbettos, croissants, pastry cookies and dessert sauces that were first crafted in a little bakery in Milan, are now distributed all over the world and, no matter where, passion and dedication make of Bindi a leader in the dessert industry. Bindi USA, in the hands of president Attilio Bindi, is putting the same dedication into the US market, where special, innovative desserts are crafted to meet the demands of US consumers. This summer’s new jewels are: mango mousse, an exotic and luscious sponge cake topped with mousse, raspberry mousse, and hazelnut triangolo, mousse on hazelnut sponge base coated with milk chocolate and chocolatecovered rice puffs.

chefs

O Delicious Frangelico cheesecake.

Didier Virot. His favorite ingredients are fruits and spices. “I feel that dessert should compliment the meal. I like small desserts that are not too sweet.” These are the success stories of three of the most popular pastry chefs we have today, who have had an unprecedented career and are looking forward to the success of their dessert-driven restaurants, respectively P*ONG, Tailor and Graffiti. The three have a couple of things in common. Their pastry is creative and innovative, and their mentors are three French chefs; Jean Georges Vongerichten, JeanLouis Palladin, and Didier Virot respectively. This is no coincidence, it is a known fact that the French are masters in the kitchen, especially in dessert making. Making pastry is not something you can improvise, as you can do with a plate of pasta or a steak, but you need to know specific rules and follow detailed instructions. The French have invented those rules and even a common language (which stands to chefs the same way Latin stood for priests) that is spoken in kitchens throughout the globe. The French have a long tradition that goes back to the times when noblemen employed chefs and pastry chefs from all parts of the world, thus they were able to make the best of the Austrian or Italian cuisines, their own. They are quiet innovative in pairing ingredients – such as chocolate and fruit, or in introducing new ones such as cocoa nibs, that taste of chocolate

but not overwhelmingly so. “Be adventurous with flavor, but clean and simple,” Pichet Ong says. Here in New York there are many French chefs and the quality is so high that the city has become one of the most important culinary centers in the world. But right now, in the same city, there are rumors that many restaurants forgo hiring full-time pastry chefs as it is becoming a

Making pastry is not something you can improvise, as you can do with a plate of pasta, but you need to know specific rules and follow detailed instructions.

sort of luxury not many can afford. “It’s true,” Chef Pino Ficara of GreenFig Caterers concurs, “now employing a pastry chef is a prestige that not so many restaurants can afford, and we are not talking only about money. A middle-level restaurant has a limited dessert menu so they don’t need a full-time pastry chef… they are more than happy to have one come in, somewhat infrequently, to train the kitchen staff on how to prepare desserts and that’s more than enough.” This is one of the services Chef Ficara performs; he coaches the kitchen teams of restaurants everywhere or tests something that they have prepared and fixes it if there is a slight problem. “We even work on the streamline... which is another problem. Often these restaurants have small kitchens and there is no room to actually host a croissant production, for example. You need a large table to work on, you need room in the refrigerator, it’s not that simple. Generally speaking a pastry chef right out of

Panna Cotta is really easy to make, you only need cream and jelly.


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school who works in a medium level restaurant earns about $30,000 a year, which doesn’t sound as much but it is a lot for a small restaurant. More important restaurants can afford much higher salaries and bonuses for chefs who know how to save them money during the year.” There is a new trend, if we can call it that, to outsource and desserts are bought from off-premises purveyors.

The quality is good, in most cases even excellent, but they are standard desserts, so if you go to several restaurants you find they all carry the same, or very similar, things. In this way a restaurant loses its chance to shine. Often when you have a meal the thing you remember the most, being the last thing you had, is dessert. So the dessert list should not be neglected. In some other Restaurants the

Chef Pino Ficara of GreenFig Caterers trains pastry chefs in the New York area. Photo by ©2007 Julia Griner

A new way to present crème brûlé – flavored with ginger and orange.

Inside Scoop at PastryScoop.com astryScoop.com is a new web site sponsored by The French Culinary Institute dedicated to supporting, educating, and inspiring pastry artists around the country—including career chefs, pastry students, and passionate amateurs. This on-line resource connection is designed to be informative, educational, and hands-on, reporting on dessert trends and innovations in the industry, and offering instruction in a full range of pastry arts, from classic techniques to specialized pastry skills. Tips from the pros, recipes, demonstrations, interviews with top pastry chefs, and advice on career development are all available. Candid and informative interviews with leaders and up–and–comers will give users an insider's view of pastry today. In addition, PastryScoop.com provides information about contests, scholarships, and industry events, including top pastry classes and exclusive demonstrations. It is PastryScoop.com's mission to support the increasing importance of pastry arts and pastry chefs in American and international cuisine and to promote a sense of community and increased creativity in the field.

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Executive Chefs are asked to prepare the desserts themselves…. this could actually be worse as oftentimes they do it but with no enthusiasm nor ©2007 Julia Griner creativity as they feel forced to. If you notice, a lot of Italian restaurants feature panna cotta because it’s really easy to make, you only need cream and jelly. We conclude with Pichet Ong’s old words “Chefs and restaurant owners need to recognize more what pastry can do for a restaurant. Pastry chefs can do crazy things. Pastry chefs are to restaurants what the actress is to a movie.” …simply indispensable.

Metal baba forms are filled with the batter and ready for the oven and freshly made Gianduiotti.

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THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE RESTAURANT SCENE, PASTRY CHEFS ARE A SPECIES CLOSE TO EXTINCTION…WITH SOME EXCEPTIONS school who works in a medium...

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