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What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

Chocolate. I have been fascinated with chocolate for years. I try to really advance my knowledge of chocolate as much as possible. I just recently returned from a three-day chocolate class in the south of France. The year before I was in Switzerland learning about fat crystallization from a food scientist. Each outlet has at least one chocolate dessert, and we have a designated chocolate room where we produce anywhere from 10 to 13 different types of bon bon, enrobed praline, panning nuts and more. Our milk chocolate, peanut-butter-caramel-enrobed chocolate sells like crazy.

With fall upon us, what flavors can we expect from the restaurants at The Broadmoor?

One of Thomas' fall desserts showcasing chocolate and citrusFall is my favorite time to cook and develop menus. We are cooking a lot with apple, pear and citrus. Obviously pumpkin is on the menu. At the Penrose Room my favorite dessert right now is the Tarte au Chocolat. We do a gianduja-based chocolate. [Gianduja is a sweet chocolate hazelnut paste.] We cut the tart into long narrow wedges and garnish the top very organically with the rest of the dish’s elements, which are milk chocolate chantilly, salted chocolate powder, blood orange sorbet and hazelnut caramel. It is beautiful and delicious. At the Summit we serve profiteroles with fall ice creams to include pumpkin ice cream, pecan ice cream and brown butter ice cream. The profiteroles are baked with a pecan croquant on top for texture. The dish is finished with warm spiced chocolate sauce served tableside.

Are there any current trends you are noticing in the dessert world?

Yeah, back to the goods! We were all hypnotized and distracted by the beautiful and thought-provoking techniques of the Spanish cooking revolution and the dreaded phrase, ‘molecular gastronomy.’ While this was a great and educational time for professional chefs, the guests were telling us, ‘I just want a cookie or a piece of pie. I don't know what a hydrocolloid is and I don't want one.’ Diners want something that is familiar. More specific trends would include revisiting some of the classics. Obviously macaroons and cupcakes are holding strong, but I see baba, mille feuille and éclairs making a comeback. American childhood favorites are also popping up more and more. We have a new restaurant-bowling alley called PLAY where we have a strawberry pop tart and peanut butter whoopie pies on the menu. Awareness of gluten could also be considered a trend. We try to have gluten-free options available as much as possible.

What are you doing now that has you most excited?

We are very excited and are gearing up for our new Italian restaurant, Ristorante del Lago, opening next spring. The concept of the restaurant is rustic, regional Italian cuisine. I spent five weeks in southern Italy a couple of years ago and have since been eager to apply what I learned there. We will be offering a dessert trolley showcasing traditional Italian desserts and biscotti, like panna cotta, tiramisu, bombolini and torta della nonna.

Contact Charlie Duerr at charles.duerr@penton.com.