We’re big believers in saving room for dessert. But not only that — we think it’s as important as the main course. We have a growing number of talented people to thank for that. Our pastry chefs nationwide put sweet finishing touches on your meal, making desserts that are as creative as they are delicious. Meet four of these pastry chefs, who tempt you with everything from fine chocolates to peach cakes.
The Chocolate Guru: Kimberly Bulger
Scala’s Bistro, San Francisco
The French Culinary Institute grad is known to put a global spin on classic recipes (look no further than her mascarpone cheesecake, which has an almond biscotti crust). Yet she is even more regarded for her chocolates. When apartment hunting in San Francisco, she was struck by the distinct personalities of each neighborhood, and dreamed up a way to express each in dessert form. The delicious result is her San Francisco Chocolates collection, a box of eight bonbons ranging from the milk chocolate Chinatown truffle to the five-spice, Latin-inflected Mission. Bulger’s long resume includes stints at Maxim’s in New York City, American Park at the Battery, and hotels in New York City and Las Vegas.
The Decadent Visionary: Kieu-Linh Nguyen
Poste, Washington D.C.
A graduate of the prestigious New England Culinary Institute, Kieu-Linh joined Poste this fall — and her reputation precedes her. She began her career at the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad, California under the tutelage of renowned pastry chef Franck Riffaud. Most recently, she was a part of the esteemed pastry program at Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier. At Poste, Kieu-Linh applies classic French technique and modern vision to create beautiful, purposeful pastry. She’s introduced an apple crostada featuring a baked risotto cake with fuji and granny smith apples and crème caramel. And then there’s her Manjari chocolate pot de crème with Frangelico crème chantilly, pan-seared pears and brown sugar treusel and a buttery graham crust. Who wouldn’t swoon?
The Comfort Standout: Larry Glenn Queen
BRABO, Alexandria, Virginia
Born and raised in Bowie, Maryland, Larry’s small-town roots inspire his nostalgic yet inspired pastry. As a child, he could be found learning his way around the kitchen under the guidance of his mother and grandmother, or working in his aunt’s restaurant. This familial bond he shared over cooking is a huge influence in his menu, which emphasizes comfort and familiarity. Larry’s triple-cream cheesecake features a graham cracker crumble, honey-roasted figs, candied walnuts and blueberry-Pinot Noir sorbet. And he elevates a simple peach cake with raspberry panna cotta, peach compote and peach-ginger sorbet. Larry brings over seven years of pastry experience from the kitchens of PS 7 and Blacksalt to his new position as Executive Pastry Chef at BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.
The Seasonal Superstar: Stacy Needham
Red Star Tavern, Portland
The three-year veteran of Red Star Tavern knows just how to feed your soul — especially on blustery fall days. For the season, she’s making her own version of an old-fashioned pecan pie, swapping out pecans for local hazelnuts, plating it with bourbon crème fraîche and vanilla ice cream. Also on the Southern-inspired dessert menu: a house-made cinnamon sugar donut with huckleberry sauce and candied pistachio, and maple-brown sugar custard. You could say that her career all started with an Easy-Bake Oven. From a very young age, Stacey was creating cakes and pies in her mini, kid-safe appliance. That passion for baking led her to the Arizona Culinary Institute fresh out of high school and eventually to Red Star Tavern, by way of some of Scottsdale’s and Portland’s top restaurants.
We hope if your travels take you to one of these restaurants, you end your dinner on a sweet note.
Also, tell us: What is your favorite dessert?