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Do you have a favorite ingredient?

I wouldn't say I have a favorite ingredient so much as ingredient combinations — roasted white chocolate with higher acid berries and cocoa nibs, for example. Actually, I would say any herbs with a hint of anise, like tarragon, anise hyssop or basil.

With the hot summer months upon us, how do you incorporate ice creams, sorbets and other frozen ingredients at your restaurants?

I tend not to plan my menus too far in advance, so I haven't really thought about what I'll be doing over the summer, aside from making ice cream sandwiches. I'll probably do tarragon chip ice cream sandwiched in a dark cocoa cookie.

Do you help select and pair after-dinner spirits and wine?

No. I let the sommeliers work that magic. We usually taste together, but they have a good handle on what works.

What do you have planned that you are most excited about?

I'm most excited about a dish we just put on [the menu]. It's roasted strawberries with ricotta mousse and celery sorbet. It's just a really fresh, bright dish, and my sous chef Becky Broeske is making an amazing ricotta that we use in the dish.

What current dessert and pastry trends have you noticed?

I'm not really interested in trends. I'm more focused on what's in season. Nature is the ultimate trend predictor. I get more influence and inspiration by talking with colleagues and friends than by looking at magazines.

The recent Killed By Dessert event sounded like it was a huge success. How did that come together? Why was it important to you?

Killed by Dessert came together through an online conversation between the founding chefs. We're all friends and we wanted to do an event that showcased what the pastry department can do. We're often an afterthought when it comes to most events and we wanted to showcase the pastry chef. I find a lot of importance in this event as it has and continues to strengthen the pastry community. Not many events bring us together, and this has really tightened the pastry community on a national level. Since the first one, there have been several pastry-focused events across the country, and I hope we've had some part in inspiring that to happen. There are also pastry chefs in Belgium and South Africa who have reached out to let us know that they've been inspired to start their own dessert-focused events.

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