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Boredom ruins desserts

Pastry chef David Carmichael says it's crucial when making desserts never to get bored, whether you are working on new recipes or classics.

by: Richard Leong | 05 Jul 2007

The 36-year-old New York native became executive pastry chef at GILT at the New York Palace Hotel in April after 10 years as the head pastry chef at New York's Oceana restaurant, where he honed his inventive twists on classic desserts.

He began his culinary career in high school as a dishwasher at the Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton and eventually worked his way up to the head of the pastry department before going on to attend the Culinary Institute of America.

Carmichael was named one of the country's top 10 pastry chefs by 'Chocolatier' magazine and 'Pastry Art & Design' magazine in 2004.

In a recent interview, Carmichael had the following to say about his art.

Q: How do you keep things interesting on a day-to-day basis?
A: You can't get bored. You have to have that passion. I have made almost 500 000 chocolate souffles in my lifetime. To me, I enjoy making it now like I did back then. That's transferred into your food from a great sugar piece to the smallest cookies.

Q: Is it different in working in a hotel than a stand-alone restaurant?
A: There is a difference. It's basically the way you conduct yourself with other people. At a stand-alone restaurant you are going to find that you can command people easier. You know, no one is allowed to go slow.

Q: How many desserts do you have to prepare a day?
A: We shoot for 40 portions of each dessert. There are seven different items, not including sorbets and ice cream. I always try to make an menu that appeals to an equal number of people randomly because everyone is different. Some people are fruit lovers and some people are chocolate lovers.

Q: What techniques are you experimenting with?
A: Cooking 'a la minute' (to order). A lot desserts in many places are pre-made and they are just assembled on a plate. Whereas I'm trying to do more of both, less of pre-prepared. I'm trying to cook more on the hot-side of the kitchen – like fish and steaks.

Q: What do you cook for yourself?
A: I grow rhubarb so I make rhubarb crumbles for my ice-cream. If I'm completely lazy, I would have ice-cream with chocolate sauce. I cook a lot at home. I make soups in the winter, roasted vegetables. I barbecue a lot. I'm trying to decompress from the sugar because I work with it all week long. It takes me a long time to desire sugar.

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