Chefs Without Restaurants

Pastry Chef Erin Kanagy-Loux - Drawing Inspiration from Her Japanese, Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch Heritage

September 07, 2021 Chris Spear Season 2 Episode 108
Chefs Without Restaurants
Pastry Chef Erin Kanagy-Loux - Drawing Inspiration from Her Japanese, Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch Heritage
Show Notes Transcript

Over the last 20 years, Erin Kanagy-Loux has worked in various arms of the hospitality industry, most recently as the Executive Pastry Chef for Union Square Events, and Reynard at the Wythe Hotel. She’s a first-generation Japanese American that grew up with a heavy sprinkle of Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch Heritage. Her memories, experiences, and love of flavor have shaped the unique cultural background she draws her creative inspirations from. She is most recognized for her work in celebration and wedding cakes, and has been featured in NY Magazine Weddings. Erin competed in Valrhona Chocolate’s first USA-hosted C3 Competition and received the bronze Press Prize. In addition to her technical skills, she has honed her skills as a coach and teacher through her experience as an instructor at the International Culinary Center, California Culinary Academy, and the Western Culinary Institute of Portland. Past colleagues often refer to Erin as “The MacGyver of Pastry”, which has helped her in the ever-changing world of food.

On the show, we discuss her upbringing, and how it shaped her culinary style. We talk about her career path, and her role as a culinary instructor, which now includes virtual instruction. Found out what her favorite ingredient is, and how to work fish sauce into a dessert.

And we’d love it if you supported Chefs Without Restaurants. There are a few ways to help. First, if you have a business or product, we’re always looking for sponsors.  Or consider joining our Patreon. If nothing else, it would be great if you subscribed to the show, rated and reviewed it, and shared your favorite episodes. 

Looking to hire employees for your restaurant? This week's sponsor is Savory Jobs, a job site only for restaurants. For just $50, get unlimited job postings for an entire year. Use discount code SAVORY10 to save 10%.

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Chris Spear:

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris Spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. Their caterers research chefs personal chefs cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. This week. Our guest is Erin Kanagy-Loux. She's worked in various arms of the hospitality industry, most recently as the executive pastry chef for Union Square events and Renard at the wife hotel. She's a first generation Japanese American that grew up with a heavy sprinkle of Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. her memories, experiences and love of flavor has shaped the unique cultural background she draws her creative inspirations from she's most recognized for her work in celebration and wedding cakes and has been featured in New York Magazine weddings. Aaron competed in Valrhona chocolates first USA hosted see three competition and received the bronze press prize. In addition to her technical skills, she's honed her skills as a coach and teacher through her experience as an instructor at the International culinary center, California Culinary Academy and the western Culinary Institute of Portland, Oregon. Past colleagues often refer to Aaron as the MacGyver of pastry which has helped her in the ever changing world of food. On the show, we discuss her upbringing and how it shaped her culinary style. We talked about her career path and her role as a culinary instructor, which now includes virtual instruction, find out what her favorite ingredient is, and how to work fish sauce into a desert. And we'd love it. If you supported the Chefs Without Restaurants, podcast and community. There are a few ways to help. First, if you have a business or product, we're always looking for sponsors. You can also support our existing sponsors like savory jobs. If you shop on Amazon, we have our own affiliate link, or be like cool kids Matt Collins and Justin Khanna and consider joining our Patreon. If nothing else, it would be great if you subscribe to the show, rated it and reviewed it and maybe share your favorite episodes on social media. The links to all these things are in the show notes as usual. The support means everything to me. And now here's a word from this week's sponsor savory jobs. Did you know restaurants turnover employees four times faster than most businesses? What if somebody created an affordable and effective hiring solution for the restaurant industry? What if there were a job site that only focused on people looking for food service jobs? What if that site only cost $50 a year to advertise for every job your restaurant needed? Forget the big corporate sites like indeed and monster. Our sponsor savory jobs has a job site exclusively for restaurants. The best part is savory jobs only charges $50 for an entire year. And you can post all the jobs you want. And for our loyal listeners use the code savory10 and get 10% off. So go to savoryjobs.com and discover the job site shaking up the industry. And remember to use savory10 for 10% off. And now on with the show. Thanks so much and have a great week. Hey Erin, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Erin Kanagy-Loux:

Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me. I'm so glad we could catch up.

Chris Spear:

I can't wait to talk to you about all the delicious things that you're Cooking and making and what you're up to these days.

Erin Kanagy-Loux:

Thank you. I'm glad to be here. And yeah, it's been a new world.

Chris Spear:

I guess I probably knew about you. It's probably been like six or seven years now. Oddly enough, I was going through my old photos. I couldn't find it today. But I think the first time I ever met you, you photo bombed a photo I was taking at Star chefs with wil Goldfarb, you know, well, yes, he's one of my good friends. So it was this weird thing where like, I was super excited to meet him. And I want to take a picture and he randomly grabbed you off the side and threw you into the photo. And I don't think I knew who you were at the time. And I was like, Who is this person? And why is he dragging her into our photos? So that somewhere and I it's just like stands out in my mind. And like years later, I've had way more conversations with you than him. And I just think it's pretty funny that that's kind of how I first I guess met you. I don't even know that I introduced myself, but he's so good at that. springing it on you? Well, I've really come to love all the stuff you're doing. I mean, your food looks delicious. I unfortunately, have not eaten much of your food. So I guess we'll have to fix that at some point. Definitely. We probably had it at some search, and I'm sure I probably have you've done some cooking there. Right? Yeah, there's always so much going on. It's like three days of chaos, and you know, just kind of running around shoving a bunch of food and cocktails into your mouth. And then, you know, you have to go back and look at the photos afterwards to kind of remember what you did. That is my experience. Well, I love to kind of start with backstories you know, you have an interesting upbringing. I think so much of it, probably, you know, all of our upbringings kind of bring us to where we are. So can you talk a little bit about where you were raised and your family and how that kind of relates to your food and cooking?

Erin Kanagy-Loux:

Yeah, it's definitely shaped who I am as a person, but you know, specifically in my in the way that I think about food, and you know, the way that like everything I've experienced and open very lucky. So yeah, I was born in Japan. My parents were missionaries in Tokyo and adopted me from Kyushu, Japan, which is like the lower Island. And you know, I grew up knowing all about Japanese food and Japanese culture. My mom was actually born in Tokyo, even though she's Caucasian. Her parents were missionaries as well. backstory to that my grandpa was grew up Amish in the middle of Pennsylvania, just between Harrisburg and State College. In the valley there. They call it the Big Valley. So he grew up Amish and became a Mennonite missionary in my grandmother spent many years in Japan being missionaries. And my mother was born in Tokyo and pretty much grew up most of all of her grade school years in Hokkaido, Japan, which is on the northern end. And so she's probably we, the joke is that she's more Japanese than I am. And He always was wish he could have had it citizenship. So she kept my citizenship. I grew up, of course, knowing all the food, knowing the language, I'm not separated anymore. But getting to know the holidays as well. So we spend a lot of our summers there. As well, as you know, every other year, we go back for an extended period of time as she was a linguistics professor, for university. So she took the students over, and then we'd all go and so being a professor as well, so she had to do a lot of research. So my sister and I ended up being research subjects, on how children learn languages. So you know, you have a lot of opportunities to be immersed in the culture and food and just, you know, the excitement over things like McDonald's and the things that we just don't we, you know, we take for granted as being Americans with whatever but you know what, Japanese, McDonald's is way better than it is here in the States. But you know, at the same time you have you go from like this very modern, fast paced, lots of lights, and, you know, amazing, just so much stuff happening all at once almost overwhelming when you're in Japan, to then we go spend like opposite years with my grandparents in Amish Ville is what I call it, and the Big Valley because they move back to where they my grandfather grew up, and we'd go spend our summers, you know, running through cornfields and I've learned how to milk cows. I learned how to like quilt which I was terrible at I just kind of sat there just bouncing because I needed to get up and move. But you know, learning how to like bale hay and jump off hay bales and, you know, catch all the kittens that are running around. And so it was kind of a really fun contrast between the two kind of worlds. But you know, I what I really loved about that Amish side was you know, being able to have that opportunity to see how food is grown. You know, being able to both my grandparents on both my parents side, come from a farming background. So my grandparents and my dad's side had, you know, a huge, huge farm But it was just for pleasure, because that's what my grandfather grew up with. So they kept there is like a huge stone fruit orchard. And I loved picking the cherries and my grandmother and go make pie with them. And he was sitting there picking the snap peas off of the vine. And I would just sit there and eat most of them as I'm picking them, and they didn't have much for dinner because I eat it all. This is like having those experiences of like, really knowing what shoe tastes like, and where it comes from, and actually seeing where it comes from. And you know, that like, you don't just go to the store and pick up milk, it's like, we would go and milk the cows and take the cream top off the top of the tank for the cream every morning. For me, it was a very, like well rounded way to kind of see how the food industry is and how people enjoy food and the different ways that it brings people together and, and just the different flavor profiles in general, is so vastly different. But yeah, so I guess that's like the major things that shaped me. And it's just, it's amazing to be able to know how to grind your own meat to make your bread. And yeah, being able to watch those things happen and have people be like, that's what that's what you know, but also being the kid that shows up to lunch with the lunchbox of only DD that has like Lumi bushing inside and not go and like Cochrane and things like that. You're like, what are you eating? So? Yeah, it was fun. I learned a lot and I had a lot of different. I didn't realize how diverse my experience was until obviously,

Chris Spear:

when you were living with your grandparents, what was the availability of ingredients? I mean, did you just eat predominantly, like Amish type foods? Like, could you find any Japanese ingredients or anything anywhere? Or did was it a very split, like two very different lifestyles.

Unknown:

It's funny at my grandparents, when they were missionaries in Japan, you know, a lot of things that they would cover bring back with them, either they had to take a ship, with my mom grew up taking a boat to Japan. And when they had to come back to the States, you know, so it's like, that's a long, that's a long trip. And oftentimes ships do it by herself. And when she come back to Japan from the States, her parents would give her a list of things that she needed to bring back with her. It was that they couldn't find him. And so vice versa. So when we would be going out to them, we'd get a laundry list of things to bring from you. We lived outside of Philadelphia, we had a you know, Asian markets all over. So we had our list of stuff that we'd have to bring, but you know, there were about a half an hour from a larger grocery store that did have some of those, you know, international flavors. We'd have very traditional like Amish breakfast of like, you know, scrapple and eggs or, you know, corn, we call it mush, but it's really just like corn meal style, like legit porridge, and then we'd set it and the next day we do fried mash, which was my favorite, and you know, farm fresh eggs and things like that and like, like white bean soups and stuff, but then we do like Japanese Japanese kata, you know, or something, you know, okonomiyaki you know, we like mix, because we'd had a lot of the same ingredients, you just have to, like, the few things would be a slight difference, you know, we bring the Japanese barbecue sauce for it, you know, it's like, we use the foreign fresh vegetable. So it's kind of like, we throw it all in.

Chris Spear:

Well, that's a good blend. I mean, I have a lot of friends who grew up in that kind of area of the country. And they always talk about how they didn't have a lot of flavor in their foods. Like I still have friends to this day, my age who I cook for, and they're really kind of overwhelmed sometimes by the food because they're used to a more plain kind of food. You know, they had a wide variety of produce and proteins and stuff. But the spices I think it's kind of overwhelming for people who predominantly grew up in that area and didn't really travel outside the region. But it sounds like you had a really good, well stocked pantry at your house. And you said my favorite thing scrapple like I am, I want to be like a scrapple influencer that's my goal. Like I want to put a whole cookbook together of scrapple recipes actually just dropped one yesterday. So yeah, something near and dear to my heart. I lived in Westchester, Pennsylvania for a while. So that was my first experience with so many of those foods. I'm a New England boy I grew up outside of Boston, but really loved my time in the Philly region. And you know, I went out to Lancaster all the time and just you know, really love a lot of the way of life but also the cooking and the food and it just seems like they've really connected to the roots of food.

Unknown:

It's amazing to see you know, it just it's a lot of hard work but at the end of the day like it's so worth it the flavors are amazing and it's fun because you do see it now like you know everything has modernized to a degree I mean even though the Amish still are definitely the farthest from modernization but you know, you will see like in the local You know, one of the places we love to your shops, there it is run by Amish but they're they're Amish that are allowed electricity and things like that. But even in their like you can now find like granted everything is a lot many things are in bulk. But you know, there's like taco seasoning and there's like, you know, not necessarily like, you know, I can't find Use you but you can find like show you and you can find other flavor Indic they have like the Japanese, you know, the rice snacks, it's cool. So they're they're branching out and you can find some more, you know, more international flavor profiles that maybe wouldn't have been there in the past. So,

Chris Spear:

how did you get on the path of cooking professionally?

Unknown:

I mean, like most people, it's kind of an accident. Um, you know, it's sort of like, when I was younger, I've always just been a bit headstrong be stubborn, and independent. And, you know, I, I was, went vegan, when at a younger age and decided, like, Okay, well, you can't make me this, I'm just going to figure out how to make it myself and, you know, made myself dinner. And, but you know, it was also just like, I really loved cooking with my dad. And so just watching him being able to cook along with him, and I was the one that would make cut it, because that was something I really loved doing. So I always was cooking just in general, or baking with my dad or my family, or just a holiday career, whatever it may be. And then, you know, I wanted to be independent, and a younger age. So I got a job. And I was working and doing prep and learning how to do some pastries and things like that. And, you know, eventually, then I worked myself out of that job and ended up helping somebody, a good friend of mine, so I still go visit when I go home. But he opened a diamond Shop in Eugene, Oregon, and he was making his own noodles. And that was one of the first like, that was like super crazy for Eugene, Oregon to have a Japanese guy come and like decide to make his own fresh noodles and open this whole shop. It's so open today, which is awesome. But I loved it. And I loved that, you know, I love working ally. And I love that intensity of, you know, you got to get the orders out and you know that that rush and then that like moment, and then cleaning everything up again, it's you know, I always just leaned on it as something that I was good at to be able to make money while I was doing something else. So I did that. So I was able to save up to you know, I finished high school early, and then I was living on my own and then figuring out what I was going to do next. And so it's always that kind of thing. So what am I going to be able to do next after Well, I always have cooking to lean on for work, like I know, I'm good at it, and I enjoy it while I go to school for you know, printmaking or I go to I try to go to pre med or whatever it wasn't like, my parents finally just got tired of me. Like not ever getting a degree in anything and spending tons of money on education and, you know, learning a lot, but just like never gonna do anything with it. So I finally was like, Well, how about how can I just go to college or school? I know, I can get my degree. Like, I know, it'll be easy. And like, I'll finally have a degree. So yeah, that's kind of was the point at which when I was actually sitting in anthropology class going, Yeah, I'd rather be at work, like decorating cakes right now. This is ridiculous. Like, why am I working so hard at both things when I should just be figuring doing this. So I guess I've always kind of been doing it professionally, it's always been my, you know, my livelihood. But it wasn't until like, you know, when I decided to go to school that I was like, Alright, this is how my actual career path and I guess I'm gonna figure this out. And then, you know, it I was I did sushi for a while, which I really enjoyed breaking down fish like that was that was so fun, being able to take, you know, I went from like, you know, a portion of it being a tuna belly, or Tina portion to then, you know, a quarter of a tuna to half of a tuna and then I got to was allowed to like, you know, learn how to like put your heel and like crazy things like that. And it worked, I worked my way up to manager and that for me, that felt like a really amazing accomplishment being trained by very, very good Japanese sushi chef, along with the very talented, you know, American sushi chef. So that was that was fun for me. And then, you know, it's like I went started school in culinary. But, and I hope no one takes offense to this. But you know, I've met a lot of executive chefs that if presented with the challenge of having to make a cake, maybe not the first thing that they would jump on or have a great success in. But if I was presented with needing to, you know, take care of service for the night, on both sides, I would have no problem doing that or prep for that matter. So I love doing savory and I love cooking, but I love the precision of pastry. And I love knowing how ingredients work. Again, my sister calls me the most irresponsible, responsible person ever. And that ties into like all areas of my life. I love rules. I really, I really think they're important. And I like people to stay in their line. And I like to know what the rules are. Because I'm also really like to know how I can manipulate them to work for me. So predominantly with pastry, you know, it's like I want I want I know how everything works. I know what they're supposed to do. And if I can't make this happened like this, or I don't have access to this, how do I achieve that texture achieve this product, this end goal without having blank. So that scientific brain process that I love and You know why kind of pastry was the way I went?

Chris Spear:

So is that important for you to kind of find some constraints that then you have to work around? Like, does that fuel your creativity?

Unknown:

I love it. I love being presented with who you have. Here's this, like, what would you do that? Like, that's really fun. But it's also like this way to open ended like give me you've got to give you some more guidelines. Do you want hockey? Want to coach the speech should be savoring? And then I kind of like, oh, what do you need? But when it comes to like, you know, I love living in San Francisco and like everyone's, oh, it must have been so amazing to have everything in season all the time, and yada, yada, yada, yada, yada. And I'm like, yeah, it was great. But it's kind of boring. Like, everybody's doing the same thing. Everybody doing same thing pushes you to try doing some different. It's like, it's kind of boring. So moving that back to the east coast, and like having seasons and having to get creative. And you know, the dead of January when it's like not really Apple season. And it's like citrus and like tropical fruits, fruit, but it's not really local. How do you what do you do? Like, what else? Can you preserve? Can you ferment? Can you like, what other ways can you prolong it something that was you know, at its prime ripeness at one point, and? or How can you get creative with what you have and make something really incredible from that. So I love the Oh, no moments, but I also love that like, here's your box figured out.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, that's where I have my most success. You know, I, I like when customers have certain restrictions or something like I do customize menus for people. And when people say they eat everything that's overwhelming for me, because I start with this huge menu of like, 400 things, and I don't know where to go. And I'd almost rather than say, like, I'm celiac and can't have gluten, you're like, oh, cool, I can eliminate like, half of my menu and start from there. And then like, what are some of my favorite things that have gluten in them? And how can I make them for them? You know, it gives me a starting point, as opposed to like, just make whatever, I love everything. I'm I don't even know where to start. And it just kind of blows my mind.

Unknown:

When it's a fun challenge to be like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure this out, and you're gonna love it. And I feel like you're gonna love it.

Chris Spear:

Yeah. What would you say you have a style, like if someone asked you and I kind of hate those things when people say like, what's your specialty? But do you feel like you have a style?

Unknown:

For me, it's, I try to work with as much you know, local, and what's in season is the most important for me. But being able to support the community around me is really important. But also, you know, I guess Aside from that, it's less is more I really tried to, I really love the simplicity of food and being able to showcase the flavors for what they are. It doesn't necessarily I mean, I've definitely gotten stuck in the world of like, having to eliminate things on my plate. Like, is this really necessary? Like, what's the point of this? I know, I really liked this, but like, does it really need to be here too, it does, you know, it's like configuring out how to edit because I really want whatever I'm trying to show that to shine and I really really love that that really trying to constrain myself more and get creative and you're trying to figure out how to new flavors and bounce them and highlight them without having to make it too overly handled. I don't know how you put that into a word.

Chris Spear:

Again that's why I say like I hate when people ask me like what my style is because I do a little of everything but I'm figured I'd throw it out there anyway. Well, what are some of your favorite ingredients to work with? Do you have things that you put into as many dishes as possible? Salt

Unknown:

I mean, for me it's balanced. Yeah, I love salt. It's balanced you know, it's like it helps when people say something is bland you know it's typically just under seasoned and that goes for for desserts or sweets as well. It's very if something bland it's typically one note and adding that little bit of salt is going to help carry your flavors that you have already you know it's just you know think about watermelon and a little bit of that salt in there really brings out that scene it's it's also opening up you know the the senses on your tongue to be able to absorb and take in all more flavors to it's like that's what MSG which is a salt is technically doing. But it's also Yeah, who doesn't love that like salty sweet bar snack right that keeps you coming back for more and you know, it doesn't need to be so salty where you taste it but that that little bit of salinity is going to make you salivate to keep coming back in so salt is definitely one of them and whatever form whether it's actual like granules of salt or it's in the form of like a fish sauce or like a soy sauce or a you know a missile or something like that. That that is like one of my number and then some form of you know acid again I really like balance and I'd like to be able to it doesn't need to taste sour or acidic but having that little bit of acidity in the overall you know, flavor profile is really going to elevate everything. Yeah, no, I think salts The only thing that's really like an actual ingredient that I put in everything.

Chris Spear:

Have you found a way to work soy sauce and fish sauce into Sweets,

Unknown:

definitely, you know, there's a way to do it where, you know, just it's kind of like in my head goes, it's like taking an anchovy and like a hate anchovies, right? But you take them you take, you take the bones out, you wash it, you know, and then it's more mild, they're able to get the the saltiness, but that, that it's not tissue so much anymore. It just has, like, you know, people like, Oh, it's like Caesar and you're like, yes. And if you're able to mellow it, but it's so carries kind of that, you know, for me, it's so in a mom Enos button, I don't really find it fishy, but I get I get that it's fishy for a lot of people, but, so kind of like that. umami is two things. But with fish sauce, definitely, like if you bring it down to where it is, you know, a Carmel, you know, I usually put it, I add a little bit of water and like add sugar, and just slowly reduce it until it formalizes, it becomes a very robust flavor profile. And it is that very, like definition of like umami bomb, and you know, that salty, sweet, that is really lovely. And but using that as like, a dash in something can really help elevate your flavor, I see a little bit of that and get some like chocolate mousse is going to be really lovely. And you're not going to necessarily be like, Whoa, that's fish sauce, right? But you're going to be like, oh, wow, that was something a little bit different, has a little bit of depth to it. Like, I wonder what that was. I feel

Chris Spear:

like I'd have to keep that on the DL in some of my dishes for customers. Because I do think that kind of stuff scares people I have one of my favorite ingredients is a chili worm salt that masina and Jacobson salt company did, and I like it on desserts. So I do like one of my favorites is like brown sugar cake with like a whipped ricotta, and berries and just like a little sprinkle of that, especially on top of the berries. But if I tell people, there's like dried worms in there, they're gonna lose their shit. And it's like, how do I just put this into the dish? You know, as long as I know, you don't have an allergy to it and just not make a big deal of it called protein, salt, protein salt, I like that. I've done me. So in butter creams. And that's one of my favorite things. It goes really well I make a banana cake. But you know, I'm not like a trained pastry chef. So I've had to figure out desserts on my own, which has been its own challenge. Because, you know, I know a lot of personal chefs who just go to like a bakery or have someone make their stuff. But it's like, if you're paying me to do a dinner for you, I want to make everything so like what do I feel confident that I can make for my customer. So kind of figuring out my own pastry style as I go.

Unknown:

I love it. And I you know, I admire the people that are actually taking the time to you to be a true chef. And in my opinion, being able to get if you can get creative on the savory side, like you have more than like a huge tool basket, you know, information to be able to then execute that on into a desert of some sort for sure.

Chris Spear:

Well, then I'm begin to read it. Like I have tons of cookbooks, I'm a big believer in weighing everything, I feel like I have that meticulous side of you know, the savory chef's forever, like I don't weigh I don't do any of that. I just like to cook by taste. It's like, I don't know, I kind of like the repeatability of I knew how many grams of whatever I put in this. And then next time, if it needs to be a little less, I can take it down by you know, 10 grams, as opposed to just kind of guessing that doesn't really make sense to me. Funny enough, though,

Unknown:

I still, I still do. I've gotten better about how I actually document but you know, I approach pastry in that very way of like, a little more, even more than I get like, you know, my sushi being like, Chef, how much did you put in there? So you know, I've tried to get better about like, weighing out whatever is my like amounts. And then knowing that that was like 100 grams that I started off with so that by the time I'm done adding to taste, I can go back and like, Oh, cool. I use like 47 grams. Great. You can write that down now. But yeah,

Chris Spear:

well, some you can freestyle. But like this past week, I was making chocolate truffles. And I had lost the recipe I'd used before. And trying to get the right amount of like chocolate to liquid to filling. I had to make a couple batches. Like I made them like there's not it's too thick. And just like I wish I had that recipe, because that's not one of those things where I can really say like, oh, it needs a pinch more liquid. It's like I made these they set up too hard. Like I need to back it out somewhere. writing things down. Yeah. So what are you doing for work these days?

Unknown:

So I just started back teaching and again, I taught for about a total of 10 years. And that was about 10 years ago that I stopped teaching. And, you know, I love I love teaching so much I for me, you know, it's just personally and like, selfishly, I loved being able to really do a deep dive into ingredients and how things work and problem solving. I saw almost like anything that could go wrong. I saw go wrong, and figure out how to figure out how to what happened with it, how to fix it, if I can do anything to make it better, or like wow, there's no coming back from that, you know, it's a geek, I really think you learned the most through fails. So through those 10 years of teaching, it really taught me how to get creative and like everybody's talking about this pivot word. It's like I've been pivoting for last 22 years in my career like that young. So, you know, a lot of like, Oh, those who teach can't do, but it's like, for me, it's like, it was really honing my skill set. And becoming, you know, obviously helping me become a better teacher, but ultimately, then just a better manager, you know, in leader in general, because it's teaching how to communicate and to really realize that mistakes are a positive thing. And, you know, we try not to repeat them. But you know, to take it in, and that it's great. So in fact, teaching, which I love, but it's a totally different thing for me now, which I thought was a joke. I kept seeing the ads come up on LinkedIn, I was like, No, like this, like, it's somebody totally just messing with me. But, you know, I was like, well, I, I'd like to be doing something again. And as much as I'm enjoying doing case from home, like, I don't have a walk in or anywhere to store things. And I have a home oven, which is kind of annoying. So I applied just for kicks, and I got, you know, I went through the whole interview process, like, no, this is crazy. But yeah, so now I'm doing that. And it's, I'm very impressed. I've seen some of the most amazing finished products at the better than I saw teaching in person. And you know, if any of my own students are hearing this, I apologize, but it's true. And you know, I'm being I'm still able to engage with the students, and I know who they are. And I was really concerned that I wasn't going to be able to actually, like, know who each student was, and be able to actually specifically help them on their journey or whatever their path is. But it's been an amazing experience. And yeah, so I'm really happy to be back doing that. And it's fun, because I've been making all these like fun supplemental videos for them, which has been a challenge all I learned a whole new skill set in the last like, like three months of learning how to edit on my phone, like videos, and like adding music and like, all this craziness. So I'm still able to like, yeah, I feel like I'm actually teaching them to but you know, I'm actually able to still make things and be like, no, this is what I'm talking about. Like, oh, like, it's really hard to explain how you like type, something that's going to be round and tall and say that way. So being able to make those videos are fun, but then on. And then I'm also doing, you know, fun brand ambassadorship, which I really enjoy, and I've been able to work with a couple different companies, and it makes some really fun things. And then of course, cakes. So doing lots of cake.

Chris Spear:

So what kind of cakes are you doing? Are they all occasion? Are they wedding cakes, birthday cakes, that kind of stuff?

Unknown:

Usually occasion cakes? Yes. Got two wedding cakes coming up. And then I've been doing like a lot of birthday and celebration.

Chris Spear:

So you're making your cakes at home? Is that what you're doing? You're using them there. And then you know, then you don't have to have the overhead of having a huge commercial kitchen or any of that if you're going to keep your business small. I guess that's where you know, the challenge comes in, right? Because I have a lot of friends who do this as well. Why see you're also now on tik tok. So, you know, content creation, I think is a whole new thing that people are really getting into. It's insane the amount of work people are putting into their videos and stuff at home. And I'm still trying to figure out how to best make videos and do video editing. I'm not quite ready for that. But it looks like you've, you know, jumped right into that.

Unknown:

And a long journey waiting to happen. I guess my sister is a she's Tiktok famous, let's say. And she's been doing videos for the last like a year and a half or so maybe two years, much more. But she's incredible at it. And she's been trying to get me to do videos forever. And she's been really helping me on like, how do I do this? What I do with this, like, what does this make sense? Is this good, which I do? So I've got a really great guide.

Chris Spear:

What you mentioned, like brand ambassadorships. I think that's so important these days, right, because there are some amazing opportunities to work with brands, but you kind of have to be able to do both photography and these days video for a lot of them. So it's a great opportunity for us to branch out, maybe make some money, get some cool product, but you have to be able to, you know, communicate that stuff to the world and it's something I wasn't ready for. And I've been practicing a little bit. I'm definitely not at the level of many of these people. But something I'm focusing on over the next couple months, years, I guess.

Unknown:

Yeah, it was interesting. I was approached about an opportunity a while a while ago, and it just kind of I was very surprised because it was like wow, like, Hey, would you like to do this? No, it's been, it's really challenging to find, you know, a chef, let alone a pastry chef that is comfortable in front of the camera as really, to me it just seems like you know, it's like I don't know, I felt like I was performing every day but I mean, I taught for so long. I always felt kind of like I was performing every day. And I don't know if that's kind of what made me feel more confident or comfortable in front of the camera. So totally like I always hate seeing myself or hearing myself whenever I after I do these things but it was it was surprising is because It's not something I had really thought about before. But I guess I get another thing where teaching has really impacted me in a really positive way I teaching a younger a younger age or younger in my career.

Chris Spear:

How did you learn to become a teacher? Like before you taught your very first class? Was there any kind of warm up for that? Or did you just kind of jump right into it?

Unknown:

So when I when I switched over to pastry, after I basically finished all of the culinary program at school, I was finishing all my projects really early and really fast. And just I was just done and I was bored. So then it became a cool, like, why don't you do these things? And I'm like, Okay, great, and then be done. And I was bored. And then I was often like, walking around and like, as I'm whatever doing whatever, and, you know, I'd have classmates being like, how did you do that like, and then so I just ended up like, working with my peers. And just like, this is how I did this. I don't know. This is what works for me this is I've done this before blah, blah, blah. And then it kind of funneled into Okay, Aaron leave other people. We're gonna have you just start scaling out demos for the next few instructors for their next few classes. I'm like, Okay, I'm done with it. Now what? And you know, I became really good friends with the Dean of pastry and baking is so one of my really close friends. And he allowed me to basically TA and so i th for for like the last maybe like something for six months of my, my education. And for my externship, I had gotten some really amazing opportunities to go some really amazing places. But I actually chose to go do my externship at a community college and work with a dear old friend shop and teach. So that was in its vocational school, I actually got to spend a little time doing working at a high school too, which was really cool. And in their, their vocational, you know, cooking program, which I thought was awesome. But yeah, and then from there, when I when I got done with my externship, I was, you know, brought like me, I wasn't even graduated yet. But I had come I was hired as an instructor.

Chris Spear:

I enjoyed teaching people, I think like in the context of running a kitchen, teaching my cooks and chefs. But I don't know that I could stand in front of my class and teach. I think it's a whole different thing. Because people say all the time, I usually get a job teaching and I've, I've gone on a couple interviews, I'm just like, I don't know, it just doesn't feel right to me. But I'm very appreciative for those who do. I mean, I went to culinary school and had some great instructors. I just don't know that I have it in me to do that. Well, if you want to do it from a screen, I know how to help you there. Yeah, that seems so weird. You know, looking at culinary schools, it's like, how do people go to culinary school via the internet these days? You know, does, at some point like taste has to play into account, like the instructor can't taste the work of the students. So that makes it kind of hard.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, they've done a really great job of creating a really interactive tasting wheel to be able to decipher down to like, those little hidden, you know, umami things, you know, an actual word for it, and like, a way to describe it, and like, are you 56 this is a taste more like this, or this and being able to like what is more like this and it kind of kind of fun because the game, you know, you're really like, Oh, he's like this is this, I'm going to choose your own adventure. But isn't, it really kind of helps narrow down what you're what you're tasting. So that it is a little bit easier to have that, you know, dialogue, but then, you know, there is lots of interaction with the students in terms of when we're actually like, live with them. Whether we're not really been lecturing, we're providing an interactive, deep dive on the material. And so if anybody's comes in, like, hey, this year didn't get quite the flavor profile one, and what do I do, now being able to have those times actually talk it out. But you know, at the caliber of student is really impressive. Because you have to be a self starter, you have to want this, it's a lot of work on your own as like your own person, to, to know the material and to, you know, make sure you're covering everything that needs to be covered and finding all the research materials to bring everything together. And because of that is I think that's also made this so much more rewarding. These people are going to school at the same time as like having a normal life and raising children or, you know, working two jobs or, you know, taking care of parents or whatever they're doing. And it's amazing that they find the time to read the textbook and to watch all the videos and either come to class or watch the archive of the class and, you know, and some and take and do the production and submit their work. It's It's incredible. So

Chris Spear:

are you planning on doing this for a while? And I guess the follow up is like, what are your goals for the future? I mean, do you have a path laid out of kind of where you want to be over the next few years?

Unknown:

And I keep getting asked that question. I hope to teach for why enjoy it's something that you know, nobody ever teaches for the money. Let's say that my trade, but that's not why We do this, I do this again, because, you know, I would never want to move into another position, I don't want to move up, I don't want to become this, like, I really love working with the students aspect and, and and, you know, being able to share my brain and everything that I've absorbed and learned. And you know, I don't want to be a gatekeeper in a kitchen. I the amount of chefs that I've worked with that are like, Oh, no, no, you're doing it wrong move. And then you're like, Oh, can you tell me why what can I do better? How can I How can I improve on this, and they just shut down and they just do it. So I'm trying to help eliminate that concept and and person. But then, you know, aside from teaching, I have no idea. I love the I hope I can have more opportunities during a branding work. And I love being given a product and being allowed to create whatever I want out of it and making it accessible for anyone to be able to recreate. I've been really enjoying doing these live cooking sessions. So I'm hoping to do some more of that. And I love doing things on camera. And it's really fun. So I just recently had the opportunity to team up with Bon appetit. And Quaker Oats. And yeah, that was it was such a fun experience. And I got to meet a lot of really incredible people. And who knows, I'm afraid of

Chris Spear:

being open to new experiences. I mean, I talk about this all the time with guests, the world is changing so quickly that the things that we end up doing are not even things you could have conceived of, you know, like, I went to culinary school and graduated 20 years ago, like, most of what I'm doing now didn't even exist, like the idea of being a personal chef. didn't exist. podcast didn't exist. You know, kind of like all this stuff, like working with brands, I'm sure there were some people but you know, it's probably like Emerald, like how many people had like brand deals and worked with big companies like that was a rarity. And now all this stuff. It's just like, you have to be open to the serendipity of you know, the way the world changes and new opportunities. Definitely, and I'm loving. Well, who's someone you think everyone should know about? That is maybe under the radar. I like to say like, who's a badass that more people should know about?

Unknown:

Oh, man, there's so many people. alley spars, one at Winner winner. She's incredible. She's tenacious. And she has just really done a beautiful job with the pastries there. And we've got to work together. I got to have somebody help me out with my enormous tasting that I did for Union Square Hospitality Group. I had like he's in there for like four days, like, make tons of food. But it was awesome that I was allowed to have somebody help me with the productions. And she came, we had never met before. And she had just moved here from Philadelphia. And we connected through a friend. And she came and just was a rock star. But then seeing like everything she's done since then. It's been amazing. She's, you know, she's definitely come into her own. She's a little nervous in the past about, you know, being able to take on this role as a pastry chef, and she's doing amazing things with it. And then I have a old sous chef, Amber Fitzgerald, who's now out of Florida, Jacksonville. And she is a powerhouse. She's just, she's a powerhouse that girl and production is amazing. But she's just started her own company specializing in Jewish sweets, and I some of the I've met some of the things I've never heard before that she had made for me. And it was just mind blowing. Like, Tim can bread. I don't remember what it's called, but it was just so good. Anyway, she's, uh, she's producing and selling and I don't know how she's keeping up with everything. But it's a beautiful, it's so gorgeous. And I'm so proud of her for having this opportunity of, you know, a pandemic to be able to really branch out and start working for herself. And another of one of my old chalon spirits in Portland, Oregon is doing the same in her cakes. I'm so proud of her She is so I know, she really wanted to learn more and do more with cakes. And you know, she's really, really just grown into her style. And her cakes are beautiful. I know they taste good, but they are gorgeous. And she's really grown her business and I'm so proud of her for being able to like keep up especially in like huge foods in Portland. It's insane. So, St. Francis, is her business.

Chris Spear:

Awesome. Well, I don't know any of them. So I would love to have my guest share some love so that our listeners can find new people.

Unknown:

Well, that's why I love you know, starships doing a rising star and being able to see all over the country who's doing what and Oh, that sounds amazing. Love to try that or, you know, it's a great way to be able to be introduced to people doing really amazing things.

Chris Spear:

Oh, yeah, I love the rising stars events. I'm sad. There hasn't been one around here in a couple of years. I've been I know there's been no ICC. None of that I went to DC is done to rising stars events in the past, like eight years or so. And those are my favorite events to go to. They're super fun. And then I guess similarly, who would you want to stash for or shadow just for a day? You know, like if you could go work for someone who do you really admire? David Kinch hands down I asked him I would love to try his food. I've never even tried his food. So that's on my list first, but he's so interesting. And I, I love his first book, but I also really like he's got the new book out, which is a little more accessible. You know, the memories of book is great. But I look at that. And there's no one dish I'm going to make start to finish just like, kind of out of my capabilities. But you know, I really like his approach to cooking and food and I find him super interesting.

Unknown:

Yes, he does. This has the Lexus, like Lexus intersect up here in New York. And it's basically like an incubator. It's a rotating like pop up of chefs. And so currently, it's David Kinch and memory says, so when they were doing it, and friends and family, my husband still works for me. We got to come in for friends and family. And while David was still here, and I like I don't fangirl about much, but I got I got to meet him. And the food was amazing. And I was like mentioning the security, but maybe one.

Chris Spear:

And I always talk about resources. So what are some of your favorite culinary resources? Like? Are there websites cookbooks? Like what do you just love to dive into?

Unknown:

I mean, number one, I always am looking at how baking works. It's just me in terms of like a glossary of, you know, just detail into I mean, I love Harold McGee, as well. But this is a little bit more detailed, specifically, radiant and getting 20 functions together. So that is something I always love just because they're always what is this again? How does this do this? What what how, you know, and it's not always I want to search for it on the internet, because that's not always accurate. So how big is number one caps? And then I don't know, I like reading just whatever I you know, like on your Facebook feed when you look at the news things, and if you get the different things that apparently that it knows that you like, different articles from like through eater, and then, you know, through your times, so I just kind of I like to see what kind of pops up. But, you know, I'll usually just go in and specifically reached every single thing, whether that's, you know, back a couple years ago was like, how do I met honey? That sounds amazing. I just heard about that yet. That's a thing. Like, how can I do that. And my next thing is David Kinch had this fermented carrot sauce and one of his dishes. So I'm like, how do I do that I want to make I want to figure out how to do that. So it's going to be deep dive into that. But in terms of like, I usually I just love looking at Instagram and being inspired by either the shape of somebody's dish, whether it's sweet or savory. like Wow, that looks really amazing. I wonder what that is or, you know, reading like a really cool flavor profile and, and being like, wow, like, I wonder I wonder what I don't know what that I don't know what that ingredient is or I don't know what that means. And then deep diving into what that for Yeah, I don't I'm really bad. I'm not like I don't have my keys. I just I kind of just like being surprised.

Chris Spear:

Well, it's not really bad. I'm bookmarking things on Instagram all the time. Like, I just see something, you know, techniques or something like Shola does a lot of really cool stuff. That's crazy. And he'll put like, a whole recipe in his thing. So it's like, and then every once in a while, I'll go back and be like, Oh, yeah, he did this, like really wild, you know, whatever. Let me see if I can kinda like figure it out. If he didn't put a recipe down there or using it as a jumping off point to create something. Do you have anything you want to leave the listeners with? Before we get out of here today?

Unknown:

I'm constantly trying to figure out ways to thank my teachers for and you know, the amount of dedication and patience that they have for this blue screen thing. But just in general, it's educators are really incredible. And nobody does it again. It's because you love it and because you're passionate about it. So I really admire that and just thank your educator.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, that's great. Nobody gets into the food business for the pay. I mean, I guess some people do, but are we really in the business for the pain now? Oh, no. was great. Thanks. So definitely not. Thanks for taking the time to come on the show. I'm so glad we could catch up. Thank you. Chris was great speaking with you. And I hope we get to see each other again soon. I hope so. That'd be great. And to all of our listeners, this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. As always, you can find us at Chefs Without restaurants.com and.org and on all social media platforms. Thanks so much, and have a great week. Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, or sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at Chefs Without restaurants@gmail.com. Thanks so much.