I lined up plates in the order they appeared on the menu. This trick helps cooks plate food with speed and efficiency during a busy service.

Last week many of you participated in having a bit of fun with your food. You played The Plated Dessert Menu Game! Although it began as a lark, I must admit I might make this a regular thing if I get another pastry chef job in a restaurant. Many of you created a menu the likes of which I would not have thought of myself! Thank you! (I hope, of course, that it means you are adventurous eaters as well, supporting dedicated pastry chefs wherever you eat…)

Every day since the dessert tasting/job interview, my phone voicemail and email inbox has been full of one question, “So, how did it go?” But I don’t know what to say. They sat, I plated, we ate, we talked, I left. There were 6 of them and one of me. The chef I’ve been discussing this position with for the last 4 months asked me to speak about what was on the table, another chef asked a lot of questions, a few comments were made and now it’s all about the waiting game.

I did get to be really nerdy when it came to talking about the history of butterscotch, and why a graham cracker is called that, and why one need understand osmotic reciprocity when attempting to cook rhubarb. That was extremely fun and satisfying!

And it was amazing to see desserts that had been living in my head, as ideas or a dizzying array of free-floating components, come together on a plate, be set forth in front of humans, and eaten as if they were finished sentences, cohesive concrete visions. Like digital photography, plated dessert making can produce immediate results, an on-the-spot culmination of the conceptual and the actual.

Of course one hopes that one’s desserts will also be delicious.

Without further ado, I give you The Menu presented as my dessert tasting on Monday May 14, 2007, 12 noon, at an undisclosed downtown San Francisco restaurant for the purpose of trying out for a pastry chef job:

Butterscotch Pot de creme with Pecan Shortbread
— Extra component: chantilly.
Cherries & Cream, a Napoleon with Poetic License
— Double vanilla shortbread, carnaroli rice pudding infused with California Bay Laurel, cherries reduced in cherry vinegar and pitted cherries au natural.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Crunchy Poached Rhubarb
— Served with rhubarb-rose geranium sauce.
Warm Milk Chocolate with Various Chocolate Textures and Malted Ice Cream
— El Rey milk chocolate veloute baked atop Devil’s Food Cake lifted by cocoa meringue, warmed by hot fudge sauce and garnished with malt ice cream sitting on candied cacao nibs.
Hot Doughnuts with Blushing Sugar and An Egg Cream Chaser
Pate a choux doughnuts rolled in sugar made with mesquite flour, fleur de sel and ground cacao nibs served with vanilla bean egg cream.
Bright Lemon Baked Alaska, Brown Butter and Shuna’s Famous Graham Crackers
— Shuna’s famous graham crackers sitting against lemon sherbet and brown butter ice cream hiding under torched Swiss meringue.

The cherry Napoleon.

Warm Milk Chocolate with Various Chocolate Textures and Malted Ice Cream.

I’ve written about a number of plated dessert tastings I’ve done in the past few years. Interested in knowing more? Click here.

Thank you, all of you, for playing last week’s game, reading, imagining, and coming along for the ride!

Plated Desserts, A Menu. 21 May,2007Shuna Fish Lydon

  • Jill

    O great yum! Marry me, um, us?

  • Alice Q

    Just tell me where to go and when, and I’ll be there! Bravo Shuna, those sound fantastic.

  • Sara

    Yum. I would totally order the first three. (Not all at once, though.)

    Brava! I hope you get the job, if you want it.

  • nicole

    Wow …these look so, SO amazing! And I love the descritions! Yummy.

  • Doug

    Shuna, the butterscotch with pecan shortbread sounds incredible – as do all the others, especially those incorporating cheese/dairy.


Shuna Fish Lydon

Shuna fish Lydon was whisked and baked in San Francisco but served and eaten in New York City. She’s had a 16 year tumultuous love affair with professional cooking and has BFA in photography from CCAC.

Working with and for some of the best chefs in NYC and California, Shuna’s resume reads like the who’s who of cooking today. She identifies as a fruit-inspired pastry chef and calls the many local farmers’ markets her muse.

Currently “at large,” Shuna spends her time teaching baking and knife skills classes, consulting at local restaurants and writing for a number of outlets about deliciousness.

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