La Newyorkina Founder Fany Gerson: "I'm The Anti-Pastry Pastry Chef"

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While most of her contemporaries were concerned with opening a restaurant, pastry chef Fany Gerson had another goal. "Most friends and colleagues I have in the industry had dreams of having their own business," she says. "Mine was to write a cookbook." The Mexico City native and Culinary Institute of America graduate did just that in 2010 with My Sweet Mexico, an ode to the sweet offerings of her upbringing. That same year, she debuted La Newyorkina at the Hester Street Fair, where she began selling a selection of paletas, Mexico's frozen, on-the-go treat that would become her calling card and the focus and namesake of her second book, released just one year later.


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ICC Pastry Arts Director Jansen Chan Wants To Do Away With "Palate Fatigue"

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Growing up with a father who relished baking gave pastry chef Jansen Chan the foundation needed for what would eventually become his own lifelong passion. "I never really thought baking was the thing for me," he explains. "I always just enjoyed it because it was something we did at home, and it was relaxing and fun."

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For Great Macarons, Says Thomas Keller Pastry Chef Sebastien Rouxel, Respect the Craft

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Deborah Jones
Macarons from Bouchon Bakery
Thomas Keller Restaurant Group executive pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel received an early introduction to the culinary realm. "My aunt used to own a restaurant, so I spent a lot of time there," he explains. "I was very attracted to the environment and felt comfortable there." At 16 years old, he took on a pre-apprenticeship at Les Jardins de la Forge in Champtoceaux before landing a pastry chef role at age 20 at Mess De L'Elysée, where he served France's president.

A move to the United States and a couple of bicoastal restaurant experiences (L'Orangerie in L.A. and Lutèce in New York) led him to The French Laundry, where he spent five years as a pastry chef before moving to New York for the opening of Per Se. In addition to overseeing the pastry program at all of Thomas Keller's restaurants, Rouxel manages the retail offerings at all of the Bouchon Bakery (10 Columbus Circle #3, 212-823-9363) outposts -- right down to the macarons. In honor of Macaron Day, we chatted with the Loire Valley native to get his thoughts on the trials, successes, and future of the colorful bite-sized pastry.

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Sugar and Plumm Pastry Chef Christina Rakitze: "Desserts Are Meant To Celebrate Moments"

Categories: Sweet Beat

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Liz Lippman
Sugar and Plumm's Earthquake in a Fishbowl
The daughter of James Beard Award-winning chef Robert Marcelli, Christina Rakitze spent much of her childhood playing in a professional kitchen. "My first memories are of sneaking chocolate chips out of his kitchen pantry with my brothers," she says. And it was during culinary event outings in the city with her father when she met Marc Forgione, whose father Larry had worked with Marcelli for several years.

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Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki's Desserts Get Outdoorsy at Gotham Bar and Grill

Categories: Sweet Beat

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Valrhona Single Estate Chocolate Exploration: orange, chocolate, and juniper ice cream

Before Gotham Bar and Grill (12 East 12th Street, 212-620-4020) pastry chef Ron Paprocki was creating desserts, he was designing landscapes. "My job was to meet with new homeowners and then draw up a plant proposal based on what they were looking for," he explains. A landscaping opportunity took the Rochester native to Germany, and it was there, inspired by the countless pastry shops he stumbled upon, that Paprocki gave serious thought to baking, then still a hobby.

He enrolled in Elisabeth-Knipping Schule in Kassel and landed an apprentice pastry chef role at that city's Café Alheit before returning to New York in 2004. In the decade that followed, a series of progressive roles at some of the city's most recognizable venues (Financier, Sascha, The London) led Paprocki to Gotham Bar & Grill, where he plates refined and whimsical desserts, informed by his German training and the artistic vantage point he developed during his landscaping years. Here Paprocki discusses why we're just days away from the best season of the year, what you'll always find in his freezer, and the Family Feud answer he feels should be unanimous.


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Morimoto Pastry Chef Michelle Kogan's Desserts Pack Fermented Flavors

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It was pastry chef Michelle Kogan's culinary-inclined grandmothers and her stepmother's "over-the-top" cooking that instilled in her an early admiration for restaurants. "It was as if we were in a restaurant at home, which really made me want to be in a restaurant even more," she explains.

After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, she staged at a number of highly acclaimed New York restaurants -- including Jean Georges, Del Posto, and the Modern -- before landing a pastry sous chef position at Nobu 57, where she stayed for four years. It was there, under the guidance of executive pastry chef Gabriele Riva, that Kogan developed a heightened appreciation for Japanese cuisine and ingredients. "He is the person I pretty much owe everything to," Kogan says. "He hand trained me and invested a lot of his time into the process."

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Sugar Flower Cake Shop Owner Amy Noelle Finds Inspiration in Flowers and at The Frick

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Jen Huang
Amy Noelle of Sugar Flower Cake Shop

It was the summer breaks and early weekday recesses that led then high school math teacher Amy Noelle to sign up for cake decorating class, where she quickly discovered she had a knack for baking -- and family and friends quickly took notice. "I have five nieces and nephews, and I started making their cakes -- and people were impressed," she says. That confidence boost quickly landed her in a sugar flower-making class, where she realized she had the interest and patience for crafting the time-consuming but highly rewarding gum paste cake adornments. "That was where everything really clicked for me," she explains. In 2006 she opened Sugar Flower Cake Shop in the Hudson Valley, and this past Valentine's Day marks her third year in business at her Chelsea location (336 W 37th St #950, 212-993-6441) -- situated conveniently near the Chelsea Flower District. Here, Noelle discusses her rooftop honey icing, why she gets amped about creating Juliet roses, and the time she delved even deeper into the outdoors -- i.e. the woods -- for her one special creation.


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MilkMade Founder Diana Hardeman: "I Wanted A Better Pint"

Categories: Sweet Beat

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MilkMade Valentine's Day grams
When the novelty of grabbing a pint at her local bodega wore off, MilkMade founder Diana Hardeman decided to take matters into her own hands. "It wasn't natural, it wasn't local, pints had shrunk, and I was still paying the same for them," she explains. A modest series of at-home batches for friends and neighbors quickly gained a following, and in December, 2009, Hardeman formed MilkMade, a membership-based pint program that delivers two craft flavors to its patrons each month.

You need to enroll to reap the monthly benefits, but non-members can get their hands on MilkMade tomorrow via Valentine's Day grams: a duo of pints -- salted caramel and red velvet cake -- delivered to that special someone with a handwritten note (orders will be taken until 7 p.m. today). Here, we chatted with the head milkmaid about eight degree delivery days, searching for the best locally made bourbon, and flavor naming inspiration -- think Red Rum and Brie Mine -- for her series of non-repeating combinations (106 and counting).

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Pastry Chef Katie Rosenhouse Opens Buttermilk Bakeshop in Park Slope

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Pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse
Between a progression of pastry roles at some of the city's top restaurants (Bouley, Le Cirque, David Burke Restaurants) to walking away a winner and runner-up (respectively) on Sweet Genius and Chopped, pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse has had her hands in a little bit of everything (and we haven't even touched on her cookbook, culinary producing, or consulting projects). That wealth of experiences served as fodder for her first brick-and-mortar venture Buttermilk Bakeshop (339 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-689-4376), which opened last weekend in Park Slope. "Its style is a combination of all of those places and a lot of what my mother was doing when I was a kid," she explains. "It's basically my favorite things all on one menu." That menu includes comfort-rich classics, from whoopie pies and linzer cookies to chocolate chip bread pudding and monkey buns. Here, we spoke with the multitasker to get her thoughts on reality cooking shows, why she's crazy about buttermilk, and her Americana outlook on all things pastry.

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DBGB Pastry Chef Myriam Eberhardt Is On The Hunt For Mirabelles

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B. Milne
Sundaes at DBGB

Like many kids, DBGB (299 Bowery, 212-933-5300) pastry chef Myriam Eberhardt knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. "I always liked cooking and making food at home with my family," she explains. What she didn't know then -- but soon discovered -- was that her culinary passion was in pastry: "I always had a sweet tooth and wanted to know what they were doing in pastry."

After five years of working the kitchen's savory side at La Manoir aux Quat'saisons, a two Michelin star restaurant in Oxfordshire, England, the Alsace-born chef decided to trade in her fillets for fondants and didn't look back. It was at an exhibition at the restaurant in 2005 when she met chef Daniel Boulud, who offered her a pastry chef position at Café Boulud. After two years at Café Boulud and two years at DB Bistro Moderne, Eberhardt is now helming the pastry program at French-brasserie-meets-American-tavern DBGB (299 Bowery, 212-933-5300), where she spins out seasonally-influenced classics -- from Meyer lemon Napoleons to orange confit and Grand Marnier soufflés. Here, she discusses why sugar won her over in the end, the one French ingredient she can't find anywhere in New York, and why she loves spiking her desserts.


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