I'm always eager to try the next experimental thing in desserts, and I'm excited about how many pastry chefs are now doing some truly funky stuff in the kitchen. But when it comes to finding a great dessert recipe for the Last Bite column I edit, I gravitate to pastry chefs who riff subtly on homey, traditional desserts. It's not a shocker that Last Bite is my favorite column to work on, not only because I get to go out and try lots of delicious desserts (and I get to taste even more when we're testing them in the F&W kitchen), but also because I get to read dessert menus from around the country on a regular basis. For the most part, there isn't a whole lot of variety from menu to menu (America sure loves its molten chocolate cake), but I'm thrilled when I come across a pastry chef doing the kind of homespun but innovative desserts I prefer. This is by no means a complete list of all of the amazing talent I've come across, but a few of my favorites:

Nimal Amarasinghe, the Whitehouse-Crawford, Walla Walla, Washington
Kate Jennings, La Laiterie, Providence, RI
Jen Demarest, Harvest Moon Cafe, Sonoma, CA
Nicole Kaplan, Del Posto, NYC
Mark Schmidt, Cafe 909, Marble Falls, Texas