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Archive for October, 2010

Melt Bakery Fried Apple Pie from the Hester Street Fair

It looks like the last Hester Street Fair is this weekend and there are some great sweets on offer at reasonable prices.   What’s available if you head down there you ask?  Well, according to Blondie and Brownie Melt Bakery has some delicious fried apple pies!  If it’s still mad warm you might also want to try their cookie-heavy ice cream sandwiches too. (more…)

Top Chef: Just Desserts - Dessert Wars

There’s no immunity for the quick fire challenge tonight and  Team Diva (Zac, Yigiti and Heather) are pretty excited about being on the same side for restaurant wars.  To raise the stakes the winning team will get $30k!

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Cupcake Stop Truck busts out some pretty good cookies

Posted by Niko on October 26th, 2010

Cupcake Stop chocolate chocolate chip cookies

Not content to dominate the ultra-competitive world of New York City cupcakes, the Cupcake Stop Truck now offers (at least) three different kinds of cookies.  I tried the chocolate, chocolate chip this past Sunday on the way back from Two Little Red Hens (review coming soon) on the Upper East Side. (more…)

Baked Bakery in Red Hook Brooklyn: Popular for good reason

Posted by Niko on October 24th, 2010

The Baked bakery Brookie

A few weekends ago the DessertBuzz team braved the labyrinth of MTA service advisories and traveled from the UWS to Red Hook to visit Baked.  (We go the idea after we interviewed Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant and Baked Pastry Chef Eric Wolitzky).

Baked is generally considered one of the finest bakeries in New York City for simple, feel-good items like cupcakes, cookies, brownies and the like.  Baked also seems to have a lot of fun in their kitchen.  They always have a few experimental items on the menu in addition to seasonal offerings.  If you’re looking for a piece of fancy-pants French pastry with a dacquoise layer and 12 other components, you’ll need to go elsewhere.

I brought along a group of 5 friends–a nice mix of foodies and laypeople.

The chocolate Baked Whoopie pie

Chocolate and Pumpkin whoopie pies: The group liked both whoopie pies but felt the pumpkin was not only more flavorful but more moist as well.  This is one of their signature items and you should get at least one if you go.

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Nothing sexier than a pig says Fabio

Part I

Fabio’s interview from two weeks ago was such a success that we just had to go back for more.  Is he really tight with William Shatner?  Does he put Nutella on sugar cereal?  Find out below.  Of course, before the second interview could start Fabio had some ground rules…

DessertBuzz: Chef it’s DessertBuzz–

Fabio Viviani: Wait, first I’m going to tell you that you can put in writing anything you want but if for some reason, it happens, between me and you, that I let a word go, like a cursing for some reason–please do not put that word in! If you put one of those words down I ‘m going to get a call from my publicist and you gonna get one too.  Then the interview gonna be locked down CIA-style! These interviews are fun and easy but let’s keep it clean–

DB: Ok agreed, clean family fun–

FV: Done, great.

DB: Speaking of clean family fun, in episode 4 the Chefs had to create desserts and a showpiece inspired by Lucent Dossier. The group had performers eating fire and sword swallowing along with a women dressed like a stripper who twirled in the air.  What desserts would you have come up with after seeing that?

FV: I associate a sexy act like that with a pig–

DB: A pig?

FV: Yes, for me that whole act was a very sexy – when I see a semi-naked women running around fire that is a very sexy show.  So to me, something sexy remind me of a pig, not neccessarily a dessert.  So I would have done a whole roasted pig on a spit – gutted and filled with corn bread, gravy and herbs.  This might not have made the judges happy–

DB: No.

FV: Gail probably would have wondered if I was on drugs or something.

DB: Not just Gail.

FV: But Gail is the only one that I really care about.

DB: Right.

FV: I always really like to impress Gail so I would say something like “I understand it is not a dessert but the beauty and sexiness of the women and the fire makes me think about pig!  But I am a chef so my barometer  of what’s sexy or not is different from every other human being…”   As I was saying all this I would probably be packing my knives!

DB: No way to make the stuffed pig sweet?

FV: Pig and sweet stuff?  No.  Come on man!  Not unless you talking about maybe a pork belly– no that’s stretching it man.

DB: Ok, what about the quick fire challenge where the Chef’s had to create an over-the-top sundae?

FV: A funny story. My business partner and I went to Malibu to this famous sundae shoppe and I order the sundae they suggest as the best one and I get it and I ask my business partner why they put all this stuff: cookies, sprinkles, jelly beans, candy bars, and other crap on this great gelato?  He says because it’s ice cream not gelato!  So that was the first and last time I have a sundae.  I stick with Gelato- I cannot cheat on my tradition.

DB: So what sundae would you have served the judges?

FV: I would have just scooped some gelato and put it on a plate and serve it like that.

DB: Nothing on it?

FV: No!  And when they say you understand that this is not a sundae and I am going to say I understand, but you don’t mess up a good gelato!

DB: You’re dodging the dessert challenge questions.

FV: You gotta understand I am not a pastry chef.   I am a horrible baker and it’s a shame since I am doing this interview with DessertBuzz!  I can do some mean desserts.   But man I have no patience!  Baking is a science.  I am not a scientist -I am a freakin artist!  I can’t follow a recipe.  I can’t even do a pound cake.  What I can do are family desserts that require no recipes.

DB: There has been a lot of crying on Top Chef: Just desserts this season – every one of the first 6 episodes so far.  Why all the crying?  Does your pastry chef cry every day?

FV: No she doesn’t cry.  She is a very strong little Asian woman.  She has balls, big like bowling balls, balls–

DB: Wait, can I say that ” Balls”?

FV: Yes, why not?  It just means she has big balls.   I have seen her make a lot of men cry.

DB: Has she ever made you cry?

FV: She has never made me cry – well actually, if I am about to cry in front of her I walk away.

DB: What’s her name?

FV: Bambi.  Just Bambi – it’s the only way she want to be called.  She’s really good.

DB: But back to the crying–

FV: I don’t know what’s up with all the crying.  Even in my season everybody was crying!  Guys come on!  Doing desserts is what you do for a living!  You are on Top Chef: Just Desserts!  Worst comes to worst they are going to ask you to make a freaking dessert and it’s what you do for a living so what the hell are you crying for?  Guys, let’s man-up a little bit.

DB: So you were on season 5 and now you’re going to be on Top Chef: All Stars.  Did you do any special training to get ready?

FV: I have been learning to strain broth in a blanket, I tried to make soup in a bathtub and mixed 300 gallons of whipped cream with my bare hands–dude!  No, what I am trying to say is that you can’t prepare for the unknown and that’s what’s going on on Top Chef.  You never know what they are going to throw at you.  I trained for a bunch of crap on season 5 and I didn’t use single thing!

DB: You should write a cookbook/training manual for preparing for Top Chef.

FV: Well I’m working on a cookbook right now that actually has a lot of dessert recipes in it.   But one day I’ll send you the 100 fun [and true] facts that my mother wrote down about me – that’s going to be the book!  True story.

DB: You keep some late hours, what’s your ideal midnight sweet snack?

FV: A nice sized bowl of iced cold milk then fill it with frosted flakes then I put 3-4 scoops soup-spoons of Nutella on top of the flakes – then you eat it.

DB: Jesus–

FV: I eat that for breakfast sometimes!

DB: That would probably kill at some downtown hipster brunch places – or maybe in Williamsburg.

DB: I recently saw the movie Kings of Pastry and learned about the M.O.F. competition in France.  Does Italy have a similar award for reaching the top level in pastry?

FV: No.  In Italy there are 5 cakes and everyone knows about them.

DB: Is it true that you were the personal chef for William Shatner?

FV: Yes, I worked with him for about a year and a half.  He comes into the restaurant several times a month and we got to be friends and have since attended many charity events together.  This guy is 80 years old and is kicking from morning until night.  I mean he is big like the sun.  He’s one of the most interesting people that you are ever going to meet.  He’s an America icon and a great person and has done so much you can’t believe it.

DB: I read that you catered for 750 people for Glendale Memorial Hospital.

FV: We do a lot of charity – this was a black tie event, everything was sponsored by us.

DB: How big was the prep team that you brought?

FV: I had five people from my restaurant but we also had kids helping us from school.  Because whenever we have an event like this we try to give the kids in school to get a feel for what the reality of being chef is.   In school we spoil them, we market up the school, we tell them”oh, you’re going to be great, you’re going to be chef and  make $100,000 a year”  No, we going to kick your ass, you gonna be yelled at, and, if you’re strong enough, and don’t cry like chefs on Top Chef Just Desserts, you might make it.

DB: Did you ever find anyone for your restaurants from these events?

FV: Two of my business partners, my sous chef and my executive chef, one was a dishwasher 5 years ago, one was prep chef.  I give them a piece of the business.   It’s good karma.  Karma is a great thing if you know how to use it!

DB: With Top Chef Just Desserts who’s in the drivers seat?  Morgan has been doing well.

FV: Morgan is doing well.  Big personality, big temper.  If he can get a hold of his mouth and his temper.  In show like this, people remember people they don’t remember dishes.

In Part II Fabio discusses Top Chef: All Stars  and a life-threatening pie craving!- coming soon!

Follow Fabio on Twitter http://twitter.com/fabioviviani

Follow DessertBuzz on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dessertbuzz

For Fabio Viviani’s first take: Go here.

Go here for an interview with contestant Zac Young from New York’s Flex Mussels

Go here for an interview with contestant Eric Wolitzky from New York’s Baked bakery.

For a recap of episode 5 go here.

For a recap of episode 4 go here.

For a recap of episode 3 go here.

For a recap of episode 2 go here.

For a recap of episode 1 go here.

Go here for a look at Johnny Iuzzini.

Go here for a closer look at Judge Danielle Kyrillos.

Official Bravo Bios for the judges: Johnny Iuzzuni – Executive Pastry Chef Jean Georges, Hubert Keller – Owner/Chef Fleur De Lys, Gail Simmons – Food and Wine Magazine, Dannielle Kyrillos – Daily Candy

Go here for the DessertBuzz Top Chef: Just Desserts preview page.

Smooth - Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis, pastry chef from Le Bernardin tried to inject some class into the Top Chef: Just Desserts, which can seem like a trailer park at times.  This episode featured “Dawn Hand Renewal” dish soap.  A product that I associate with dessert almost as much as ex-laxx.

The chefs first challenge was to make desserts with only savory items and using only one pot.  Zac made red and golden steamed beet cake.

Today's show is brought to you by the dessert flavors of Dawn

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Top Chef: Just Desserts interview Judge Dannielle Kyrillos

Posted by Niko on October 18th, 2010

Dannielle Kyrillos top chef just desserts judge

Compared to Johnny Iuzzini, Hubert Keller and Gail Simmons, fourth judge Danielle Kyrillos might seem a little under the radar.  In fact she’s no dessert newbie–she’s been covering the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and writing about sweets for Daily Candy for years. After reading some of her New York Dessert recommendations in Daily Candy I decided that she  had the requisite skills to earn the official DessertBuzz Seal of Approval.

DessertBuzz: You have kind of a dream job, judging desserts made by some of the best up-and-coming chefs in the US.  How did you score this gig?

Dannielle Kyrillos: I do feel like the luckiest girl in the world!  As an editor at Daily Candy my job was to identify the newest, best and most interesting things, including sweet things and tell our readers about them.  I learned about the opportunity and then spoke to my friend Gail Simmons.   For the audition, they sent a film crew and said “tell us a funny story about dessert”.  I told this [really unfunny] story about my husband and I entertaining.  After the take this 18 year old P.A. says  ”yeah, that’s really funny” – I felt like I really bombed it! (more…)