JMPurePastry presents the next edition of the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competiton.

September 15-17th 2012
Once again, top Chicago restaurant pastry chefs are going head to head at
The Chicago School of Mold Making.
The CRPC is a single day competition where three Chef finalists will be asked to make eight plates of an original, creative, plated dessert. Chefs will also compete in a Mystery Gelato Challenge where they will push the envelope of frozen plated desserts!
The winner will be the chef that presents the most creative and best tasting desserts.

JM: What was you overall impression from the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition?

SK: It was a great experience- well planned and executed with the participating chef’s best interest in mind. The competition was challenging, yet everyone was set up to be as successful as possible.

JM: How did it feel to win? Were you surprised?

SK: I was thrilled to have won! There was some anticipation as the awards were announced because I felt everyone did an amazing job. Any one of the competitors could have taken the prize, and I was honored to receive first place.

JM: What is your process for writing menus?

SK: My process is much like the creative writing process used in my elementary English classes when I was young. I brainstorm ideas, writing down anything and everything that comes to mind. Then I stream line those ideas and put them into cohesive flavor profiles.
From there I decide how those flavors will play out in the dish- crunchy, creamy, etc. and execute the dishes accordingly.

JM: What is your hobby? What do you do for fun?

SK: I love to travel. I take several trips a year, at least one of them being an international voyage. My life revolves around food, so if I’m not traveling, I am usually dining out in Chicago with friends and family.

JM: Any advice for students just entering the work force?

SK: Remain humble. You do not, nor will you ever know everything! Being a sponge and absorbing as much information around you is so valuable.

JM: Do you use gelato in your pastry program? How do you see the development of Artisan Gelato in the United States?

SK: I do not currently use gelato per se on my menu, but I do use varied techniques for my ice creams, such as ice milk and sherbet. I think artisan gelato is becoming much more popular in the US as Americans look for “lighter” alternatives to ice cream. The fresh and interesting flavor combinations found in artisan versions is also a draw for the increasing number of adventurous consumers.

JM: Walk me thru a typical day in the shop.

SK: Everyday is a new day! On average, I focus most of my attention towards Sixteen, the fine dining restaurant. The majority of my day is spent doing paperwork, attending meetings and menu development, whereas my evening involves production and assisting in the restaurant for service.

JM: Clearly, there are fewer women than men in high profile Chef positions. Was this an issue for you when you were working your way up the ladder?

SK: In the beginning, I crossed paths with a few chefs that were reluctant to take me seriously. But as the years have passed, and I’ve proven my abilities, I’ve received a great deal of support from both male and female chefs.

JM: Name three of the best desserts you’ve ever had:

SK: 1. 5th floor in San Francisco- coconut curry pate de fruit, circa 2002: it was a petit four, yet I still think about it to this day!
2. French Laundry- apple “strudel”, circa 1999: the outside dough portion was actually long sheets of apple with a pink lady apple sauce filled. So beautiful and delicious.
3. Pierre Herme- tie between the vanilla tart and the flan nature, circa 2010: I absolutely love simplicity, and the pure vanilla flavor in the tart is unbelievable.
Flan Nature is another of my favorite classics- creamy, flakey and baked to perfection.

JM: What do you think of the current state of Chicago pastry?

SK: I think Chicago is leading the way in pastry right now. We have a very tight knit community of chefs, great resources, and a plethora of amazing restaurants. We are definitely holding the ranks and pushing the envelope with technique and flavor.

Sarah Kosikowski, Executive Pastry Chef
During her ten-plus years in the industry, Pastry Chef Sarah Kosikowski has earned a multitude of culinary honors, including a James Beard Foundation Awards nomination in the “Rising Star Chef” category.
Kosikowski spent her formative years at The French Laundry in Yountville, California, Citizen Cake and the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, in San Francisco.
At Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, Chef Sarah Kosikowski oversees the dessert program at the property’s chic, modern American restaurant, Sixteen.

Jimmy MacMillan is the executive pastry chef and at JMPUREPASTRY based in Chicago, Illinois. Chef MacMillan organizes the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition, a video series for the web. He is a regular contributor to pastry publications worldwide.

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