A Day in the Life of Star Pastry Chef Melissa Weller
The baker behind our favorite New York sticky buns and babkas shares her intense schedule at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Café and the first announcement of an exciting new project.
Some bakers have one claim to fame. Not Melissa Weller.
There are her sticky buns, found at Roberta’s in New York City, the bagels she sold at Smorgasburg, her chocolate babka at Sadelle’s (we got the recipe, luckily). And she’s got more in store, as she makes her grand debut in Philadelphia with Walnut Street Café, an all-day restaurant that just opened from Rebelle’s Branden McRill, Patrick Cappiello and chef Daniel Eddy.
Today marks the launch of dinner service, but Walnut Street Café has been open for breakfast and lunch already and now Weller is starting to ease into her own groove. Here’s what a typical day looks like for one of our favorite pastry chefs.
4 a.m. “I’ve been getting up around then, out the door by 4:30 a.m. and at the restaurant by 5 a.m.”
8 a.m. “I have a sous-chef and pastry assistant, and we get everything baked and ready to go by 8 a.m. When that hits, I try to be at the counter to make sure everything is set up.”
10 a.m. “We mix our doughs—soft pretzel and chocolate babka. Then we shape them and start baking things for lunch.”
11 a.m. “We make a seasonal focaccia at lunch, right now it’s with garlic scapes. Then we start baking off everything pretzels and making chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-buckwheat madeleines.”
Afternoon “I call it ‘traying it up.” We prep everything that will be baked the next day and mix our starters. Then I switch over to paperwork and start testing new recipes. We had a cheddar chive biscuit on the menu, but I didn’t like what was happening to it after a couple hours, so I pulled it from the menu and am figuring out something else.”
5 p.m. “I’m usually done by then, at least for now. Then, I head home to work on my cookbook coming out in fall 2019. It’s all about baking at home, and I’m excited about it.”