Justin Brunson taps pastry queen Nadine Donovan to spearhead the dessert program at Old Major
Donovan, who's just 23, graduated from Johnson & Wales and comes from a long line of family bakers and pie makers, and the opportunity, she says, to work alongside Brunson and his team, was precisely the kind of long-term gig that she was looking for. "I wanted to uproot my life for him, because at this point in my life, I want to work with people who really look at food in an elevated way, and I want to be around people who really respect food in the same way that I do -- and Justin and I are completely on the same page, plus his attention to detail is beyond inspiring" she says, adding, too, that the "ability to be a part of building a restaurant from the ground up has been incredibly awesome."
She describes her pastries as "simple and delicious," and her focus at old Major, which will pimp six to eight desserts that will change four times a year -- at least -- will be on "using great ingredients and getting back to classic desserts." She notes, too, that she also has a weak spot for pies. "I love playing with pies, and the secret is in the crust. The crust has to be perfect."
Her pastries, says Brunson, fit perfectly into his own cooking philosophies. "Like my menu, her deserts aren't pretentious; they're just delicious, straight-up awesome stuff, and what we're doing at Old Major is informal fine dining, which means the cooking will be comfortable -- amazing but comfortable, and the service will follow suit."
And he firmly believes that Donovan is a rising star. "When she made those desserts for me, she nailed it, plus she's young, motivated and ready to work. I can see her being one of the best pastry chefs in this city -- for sure. I can't even tell you how lucky we are to to have her."
So much so, says Brunson, that he has plans to make her the head pastry chef for all of his restaurants -- and there will be more, he promises. "We're doing more restaurants, and this is a person that I definitely want to have grow with us -- she's really that talented, and we're going to have a very bright future together."