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I’m still not sure what that award was all about.  How do they
decide? They called me to try to get me to come to the awards
ceremony, then asked me for my credit card information to
sell me tickets? I couldn’t get away from the shop that day. I
feel totally immersed in baking and I often feel like awards and
such are a distraction from what I love.
I feel like pastry chefs get the recognition they deserve.
Relative to the savory guys? I think so. What about relative to
other craft industries? Where are the Food Network like shows
about the guy making Shaker furniture with beautiful dovetail
joints?  In some sense, Woodberry Kitchen is an antipode to
McDonald’s – I’d love to see some of this fashionable and
transient prestige associated with chefs transposed to the
antipode to IKEA.
What do you love about being a pastry chef?
I love the math.  I love seeing everything as a percentage
and each ingredient’s function and flavor relative to the
other. I love when the final shape of a piece, say croissant for
example, is true to what it needs as dough, which is true to the
ingredients within. I love when integrity unfolds throughout
the entire process. I love watching people close their eyes
as they chew. I love plating the occasional beautiful, spare
composition. I love that there are hundreds of creative pastry
chefs out there, and I want to catch up to each one of them.
I just ate the dessert tasting menu at Atelier Crenn in San
Francisco. The guy’s mignardise came out in a hollowed-out
rock with a little bonsai-type olive tree planted in it. It was
beautiful, so far out of my perspective I never would have
thought of it. I’ll probably never do that, but it did make me
think of ten other things I’d like to do.
What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?
Best kitchen tools ever are the basic ones.  Bench knife – I’ve
had the same one for about 6 years now. I don’t like for
anyone else to use it, it’s my knife. Miniature offset spatulas
are like having an extra hand. We’ve all have at least one in
our pocket at all times. I love my chocolate spray gun, against
all reason – we usually discourage ornamentation for its own
sake here, but that velvety chocolate spray is just too pretty to
deny. I love my secret microwave.  
What culinary trend drives you nuts?
All of these awards and TV shows drive me nuts. Kids show
up at Woodberry looking for an externship and you can see
they don’t want to cook. They want to be on TV. Or be like
what they see on TV at least. It’s a heartbreak to work in the
restaurant industry. You’ll never do enough or be enough and
you eventually have to accept that and set a limit on what can
be asked of you.
What ingredient would you like to see used more in
the pastry kitchen or appreciated by diners?
Anything fermented. I feel like that’s an unexplored frontier.
Not that I’m going to blaze a trail of innovation through the
world of salumi, but the flavor of mine is going to reflect my
local microflora, my local culture. Kimchi, sauerkraut, sour
pickles, sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk. I love the
flavor of mine versus yours. 
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