As many of our fans know, we love to post beauty shots of our beyond-well-constructed pastries. We seem to have to stop ourselves daily in the kitchen to snap at least a picture or two of the desserts we have coming out the kitchen. Of course, we believe all our food is perfect, but we’d think you’d agree that there is always something special about delicate, ornate sweets. We have been fortunate to find two talented ladies that rule the roost in our pastry department. With the height of sweets and holiday season here I gathered with these gourmet girls and asked them a few questions about everything sweet.
Head pastry chef Meghan Reeves brings creativity, sweetness, and spunk to our kitchen and desserts. A less than stellar student as a teenager, she had no idea what the road ahead looked like until she discovered pastry. She attended Paragon Culinary School in Colorado Springs and credits her education there as saving her from an un-certain future. We, for one, are pleased as punch that she did!
Would you say you have learned more in school, or by experience?
I’d say, of course I have learned more by experience, but culinary school was a great foundation.
Do you find you have a natural sweet tooth or do have more of a savory palate?
Generally when it comes to things I want to eat, I LOVE savory. I’d take a cheeseburger over a cake any day, but that’s probably
only because I have to taste sweet things all day long at work.
Most over-rated holiday sweet is…
Pies. Definitely pies.
What is your favorite holiday dessert to make?
When I cook holiday dinners my mum usually gives me a break from desserts, so I cook all the main courses, but if I had to say my favorite holiday dessert to make, it would have to be a layered brownie with a Bailey’s mousse inside and topped with a dark chocolate mint ganache. Absolutely delicious!
What inspires you?
My inspirations for my everyday life are music and travel. Growing up as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, music has always been a huge part of my life. I love to travel, but haven’t had the opportunity to do much yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed to be able to travel to Mexico this coming year. Nothing inspires me quite like Mexican and tropical cuisines. All of the spices and fresh, vibrant fruits really ignite my creativity.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but my lack of math smarts said “no!” Astro and particle physics are still something I study very regularly on my off time though
If you could bake for anyone in the world who would it be?
Master Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour from the St. Regis Hotel at Bal Harbor in Miami, who is my biggest culinary influence. It would take months of planning, but I’m almost positive that my flavor profile would be Valrhona Manjari 64% dark chocolate from Madagascar, Tahitian Vanilla, Passion Fruit, and my favorite herb of all time, Lemon Verbena. The amazing citrus notes of the Manjari chocolate would complement the lemon verbena and the acidic passion fruit beautifully while the Tahitian vanilla would add a comforting familiarity while still keeping the exotic theme.
Meghan’s Favorite Holiday Sweets:
Rachel Byrne is our assistant pastry chef and brings lots of well-traveled experience to our culinary table. Rachel discovered her love for pastry while living in Florida, working as garde manger (she was in charge of the cold station salads, appetizers, canapés, pates, and terrines) in a hotel. There she began dabbling in baking pastries and making desserts. She once made a mocha Yule log on a special request from a guest, and from then on fell in love with pastries and desserts. She discovered that baking took care, skill, and intelligence to create something beautiful and decided that was what she was going do.
Where did you go to school?
I went to a private school but learned pastry on the job, where I received six weeks of intensive formal training from a European chef. I have learned more of the ropes by working directly in the kitchen.
What is your favorite “every-day” sweet?
For sure lemon meringue pies! I love tart flavors.
For the holidays, what dessert do you feel gets too much credit?
Ginger bread cookies.
What is your favorite holiday dessert to make?
Spiced cake with a rum spiced Italian buttercream
You love to travel, where have you found the most food inspiration?
Italy. The food culture and appreciation for artisanal culinary arts there is remarkable
If you won a surprise weekend vacation what country would you choose?
Italy! I would also hope to take an extensive food course while I was there.
Rachel’s Favorite Holiday Sweets: