NMH Magazine 2017 Spring

Page 14


The Fearless Baker Award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti ’75 believes great desserts are an important part of life. by LORI FERGUSON

After years of cooking on the savory side of restaurant kitchens, Emily Luchetti realized she was losing her passion. A veteran chef with extensive experience on both coasts, including a stint in Jeremiah Tower’s legendary San Francisco eatery Stars, Luchetti no longer felt connected to the kitchen or inspired by her work. So she did what any reasonable person does when seeking solace, comfort, or reward — she turned to dessert.

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Now, she can’t imagine doing anything else. “My palate is creatively more attuned to sweets,” Luchetti explains. “You’re working with a smaller group of ingredients, which I find easier to wrap my head around, and dessert is inherently fun because it evokes such an emotional reaction and is consumed purely for pleasure.” A quick scan of Luchetti’s résumé for the last two decades makes it evident that she made the right call. After eight years as the pastry chef at Stars and co-owner of the retail bakery StarBake, she enjoyed successful runs as executive pastry chef at San Francisco’s Farallon — where she won the James Beard Foundation’s outstanding pastry chef award — and at Waterbar. In 2014, she changed it up again, joining the Big Night Restaurant Group and taking over the dessert programs at Big Night’s four restaurants: The Cavalier, Marlowe, Park Tavern and Leo’s Oyster Bar. That same year, Luchetti founded dessertworthy, a movement dedicated to assisting people in making healthier, more informed choices about dessert. “Desserts should be an occasional treat rather than a daily staple,” Luchetti argues — a message she promotes by working with chefs, food companies, schools, youth organizations, and nutrition advocacy groups, though she finds it best delivered one on one. “I try to work my message about smart dessert choices into conversations I’m having with people rather than lecturing them. As much as I preach ‘Eat great desserts,’ the other part of my message is ‘Not every day.’ It’s all about balance.” During her years on the “sweet side of the kitchen,” Luchetti has built a reputation on her simple, elegant, and wonderfully flavorful desserts. “I like straightforward, beautiful things,” she says. “I don’t like embellishments in my wardrobe, my home, or my desserts.” Caramel, coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and blueberries are among the chef ’s