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Best New Pastry Chefs 2012

For this new award sponsored by Godiva, F&W’s editors ate their way across America to find the five pastry talents here.

Shawn Gawle

Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Shawn Gawle
Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Shawn Gawle
Photo © Ethan Hill.

Restaurant Corton (menu)

City, State New York City, NY

Why He Won He combines modernist and classic techniques to create thoughtful, elegant, French-inflected desserts that often highlight Asian ingredients, like yuzu and cardamom.

Born 1980; Stoughton, MA.

Latest Obsession Sesame. “My favorite thing growing up was peanut butter on a spoon. Sesame is similar but more refined. And nut-free. My black sesame gelato would totally fool you: You’d think it was peanut butter ice cream. I’m working on a white sesame financier. I can’t get enough of it.”

Recipe Milk Chocolate Crémeux with Sesame Crème Anglaise

Sugar Rush “Working in pastry is humbling. There’s so much trial and error. I don’t keep ideas in my back pocket, like some pastry chefs. I’m really an adrenaline junkie.”

Culinary School New England Culinary Institute; Montpelier, VT

Background L2O, Tru (Chicago); Veritas, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (New York City)

Standout Dessert Black sesame custard with concord grape purée, yuzu gelée and cocoa nibs.

Editor Notes “This one was so up my alley. The plate was made of granite, and served as a canvas for this Japanese-looking piece of dessert art (resembling cherry blossoms). I never would have paired sesame with concord grapes, but it worked so beautifully.”

Stella Parks

Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Stella Parks
Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Stella Parks
Photo © Ethan Hill.

Restaurant Table 310 (menu)

City, State Lexington, KY

Why She Won She creates playful American desserts, like “Faux-reos,” with a precision and rigor inspired by her reverence for Japanese technique.

Born 1981; Lexington, KY.

Formative Experience “I loved the six months I spent in Japan. The Japanese hold pastry chefs in such esteem. But everywhere I went, people just wanted me to make chocolate chip cookies!”

Ingredient Innovation “In Japan I got into all different flours, like roasted soy flour. Then I thought, Why not use nut flour to make gluten-free brownies?”

Recipe Hazelnut-Brown-Butter Brownies

Sprinkles “I grew up eating packaged foods, so the first time I made marshmallows, it was so exciting I cried. I make everything from scratch now—even my sprinkles”

Culinary School The Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, NY

Background Holly Hill Inn (Midway, KY); Emmett’s Restaurant (Lexington, KY)

Standout Dessert Blood orange panna cotta with a toasted Champagne marshmallow.

Editor Notes "Her desserts are the homiest of this group. There are only three or four each night. Think grown-up pop-tarts and cookie plates but also elegant desserts like this panna cotta."

Devin McDavid

Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Devin McDavid
Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Devin McDavid
Photo © Ethan Hill.

Restaurant Quince (menu)

City, State San Francisco, CA

Why He Won Having perfected his French technique at New York City’s Per Se, he creates fabulous Italian- and Japanese-accented desserts at Quince and its more casual offshoot, Cotogna.

Born 1980; Trinidad.

How He Got Into Pastry “My aunt Agnes St Clair made wedding cakes for her catering business.”

How He Relaxes “I like to paint in my spare time, mostly abstract art, using acrylic and enamel.”

Recipe Vanilla Semifreddo and Orange Sorbet Terrinee

Sugar “There are so many different kinds of sweeteners that pastry chefs haven’t really tapped into yet, like turbinado, stevia and muscovado.”

Culinary School Johnson & Wales University; Providence, RI

Background Per Se, Soho House (New York City); The French Laundry (Yountville, CA)

Standout Dessert Tainori chocolate tart, milk chocolate ganache, crispy caramel rice and praline ice cream.

Editor Notes “What's not to love? It's like a candy bar in an elegant dessert.”

Bryce Caron

Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Bryce Caron
Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Bryce Caron
Photo © Ethan Hill.

Restaurant Blackbird (menu)

City, State Chicago, IL

Why He Won He creates amazing, often molecular desserts with a savory element—panna cotta with turmeric; cashew brittle with cayenne.

Born 1984; Metairie, LA.

How He Got Into Pastry “I was working at Naha in Chicago as a line cook, and I wanted to try something new. I was interested in the scientific side of pastry. I have no formal schooling.”

Latest Obsession “I’m trying to make my own vinegar. I like adding splashes here and there to whatever I’m working on; I add beer vinegar to a malt dessert.”

Recipe Spiced Cashew Brittle and Chocolate Crunch Bark

Tools “I can’t make a recipe—not even brittle or bark—without my scale. I’d also love to get a $4,000 Pacojet. It can make ice cream out of almost anything.”

Background BLT Steak (New York City), Naha (Chicago)

Standout Dessert Steamed black walnut cake, lingonberries, toasted milk and cocoa nib ice cream.

Editor Notes “Desserts are very thoughtful and creative without being overbearing. You can tell what you're eating on the plate, but the desserts still make you pause to consider the smart combinations.”

Laura Sawicki

Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Laura Sawicki
Best New Pastry Chefs 2012: Laura Sawicki
Photo © Ethan Hill.

Restaurant La Condesa (menu)

City, State Austin, TX and St. Helena, CA

Why She Won She uses herbs, chiles, corn and tropical fruit to put brilliant Mexican twists on classic desserts.

Born 1979; Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How She Got Into Pastry “I was working in galleries and museums in New York. Then I got a job at City Bakery and thought, Pastry is the way to fuse my passions for art and food.”

Latest Obsession “I like to smoke everything—chocolate, butter, cream, pineapple, nuts, even eggs.”

Recipes: Lemon, Poppy and Chèvre Cheesecakes with Rhubarb

Ingredients “I am obsessed with the chère from Texas’s Pure Luck Farm. I love how well it pairs with the cooked rhubarb in my cheesecakes.”

Culinary School The Culinary Institute of America; Hyde Park, NY

Background Marlow & Sons, Craftbar (New York City)

Standout Dessert Hoja Santa: semifreddo with brandied cherries, almond brittle, chocolate sauce and birch beer marshmallow crème.

Editor Notes “Great execution and use of interesting/unique Mexican ingredients like the herb hoja santa.”

video: Star Chef Desserts Star Chef Desserts

Published May 2012
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