How to Make a Pastry Chef Happy

Make a reservation at a swank restaurant but not for dinner—for dessert only. No special occasion, you just want to come in for dessert. Then sit back and let the pastry chef work his magic.

Catherine of Food Musings did just this at San Francisco’s Campton Place recently and was treated to a dessert experience unlike any other—a six-course dessert tasting menu prepared by pastry chef Boris Portnoy, with flawless wine pairings to accompany it (yes, six courses, you read that correctly), and a tableside visit from the chef to top it off.

Pastry chefs are often overshadowed by their savory counterparts. Pastry chef and food blogger Shuna of Eggbeater, in a post last month, quoted a savory chef who once told her, “They’re not coming here for the desserts. If they get good ones, then OK, but really now, don’t think so much about it!” This chef might be surprised to hear that for three years my workplace celebrated every office birthday at Bizou—now Coco500—purely for the unadulterated joy of the chocolate-sauce-laced vacherin (thank goodness it was one of few dishes they kept on the menu when the restaurant revamped and renamed itself last year).

But with New York “dessert bar” ChikaLicious doing a brisk business offering a three-course prix fixe dessert menu with optional wine pairing, the tide may be turning. ChikaLicious made the list of 101 best restaurants, put out by New York Magazine, which notes that “on weekend nights, the line can snake out the door and down the block.”

Perhaps we’re learning to take the advice of pastry passionate food blogger Anita, to put “dessert first.”