Unlike most pastry chefs, who focus their attention and talent on one menu, Adam Thomas is tasked with quite a different challenge.

As executive pastry chef of The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thomas manages and oversees all pastry and baking at the resort’s eight restaurants, including the five-star, Five Diamond Penrose Room, plus two cafés, banquets, weddings and room service for 800 rooms. He is involved firsthand with the creation and execution of new menu items, and makes sure each dessert experience at the resort’s different outlets is unique. In other words, it is an undertaking not for the faint of heart.

Thomas recently spoke with Nation’s Restaurants News about the challenges of his current role, fall cooking and his favorite ingredient, chocolate.

How many menus do you oversee? What does your position entail day to day?

We have eight full-service restaurants that change menus seasonally and two pastry shop cafés. We also have an extensive banquet and catering operation where we feed anywhere from 10 to 2,000 people a day. While I wish I could say I spend most of my day cooking, that would be a lie. I get in and spend about 10 to 15 minutes with the executive chef, discuss any concerns, issues, budgets, forecast, etc. Then I’m off to the bakery to check in with the team and spend some time with our executive baker, then a visit to the main banquet pastry kitchen to go over the day’s events with the sous chef. After this I start my restaurant rounds, where I spend time with the chef de cuisine in each outlet, as well as the pastry chef. In the afternoon I work my way up to the chocolate room to spend some time with the folks I have there who do all the chocolate production, special celebration cakes, amenities and dessert production for the Penrose Room.

Celebration cake from the Penrose RoomDo the dessert menus differ greatly across the restaurants?

Absolutely. We have very clear and distinct concepts for our restaurants and we want to be as true to the concept as possible. For example, we have Summit Restaurant, which is an upscale American Brasserie. We don't want to serve Italian cannolis here, but rather something like a perfectly made crème brulee or clafoutis. One of the great amenities we have here at The Broadmoor is that you can stay on the property for several days and have a very different and unique dining experience every night.

What is the most challenging aspect of juggling so many different things at once?

Property-wide we have about 42 people in the pastry and baking departments. I really wish I could spend more one-on-one time with each of those individuals.  Unfortunately, most of my interactions with the team members are very quick and business-focused.

Are you involved hands-on with the creation of new menu items?

Absolutely. Two to three weeks out I will sit down with the pastry chef on duty and start putting ideas down on paper. After we have our ideas together we start putting recipe packs together. About one week before the change we start cooking. This is where we decide what works and what doesn't. We do a tasting for the service staff and after a week of the menus being in place we revisit it to evaluate what is selling, what isn't, production, etc.

What are some of your most popular desserts?

Most pastry chefs can contest that chocolate is a favorite.  We have a Coupe Café on the menu at Summit that is very popular. The dessert is a brandy snifter that has a milk chocolate coffee cremeux, chocolate streusel, espresso ice cream and a dulcey Grand Marnier espuma. The glass is topped with a chocolate disc and hot chocolate sauce is poured tableside, melting the disc and creating a very dramatic presentation. People love it.