Beast + Bottle's Andrea Wight: "Getting Denver to see dessert as more than just sweets and chocolate is always a challenge"
This is part two of interview with Andrea Wight, pastry chef of Beast + Bottle. Part one my chat with Wight ran yesterday.
What cookbooks and/or food-related reading material do you draw inspiration from?
Recently I brought in Johnny Iuzzini's Dessert Fourplay, but it's too big to fit it on the kitchen bookshelf, so I propped it up on one of the metro racks facing the line. The staff joked about how Johnny was making me blush during service. All joking aside, I really love that book, and it has a lot of great molecular techniques in it, especially for beginners. I also love The Fat Duck Cookbook, Alinea, Bouchon Bakery, Momofuku Milkbar, Tartine and At the Crillon and at Home.
What's your fantasy splurge?
Definitely a Pacojet. I'd love to be able to spin our ice creams and sorbets daily.
Favorite culinary-related gift you've been given:
My KitchenAid mixer. I use it more than anything else in my kitchen.
Favorite culinary-related item to give as a gift:
Cookbooks. For home cooks, I really love The Cake Bible and Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and the French Laundry cookbook is really great to give as a gift, too. It's like being in a classroom, if only because it's so detailed and structured.
Best baking tip for a home cook:
Taste everything, make an effort to understand why recipes work, and let yourself experiment.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young pastry chef?
I am currently an aspiring young pastry chef, but I'd say be willing to adapt and be open to criticism, be willing to work hard and work a lot of hours, and don't take yourself too seriously.
Is having a pastry chef separate from the executive chef important in a restaurant?
I think it depends on the restaurant. At Beast + Bottle, I think it works well. That said, it would be tough to find a dish on any of our menus that didn't involve some sort of collaboration. Designating individuals to spearhead segments of the menu gives everyone a little more focus and something to get really passionate about.
What's your biggest challenge as a pastry chef working in Denver?
Even though I think our guests have been pretty brave, getting Denver to see dessert as more than just sweets and chocolate is always a challenge.
What's your biggest pet peeve?
Clutter and disorganization. It happens quickly in a small kitchen, and even when we try our best to keep things tight, chaos is sometimes inevitable.