PASTRY ARTS in harmony
Many pastry chefs are creating savory desserts for a more subtle, refined final course. Rather than finishing a meal with a sweet, heavy dish, savory desserts, with ingredients such as
herbs, spices and vegetables, provide balance and less intensity.
The goal of the pastry program at Oak + Rowan, Boston, is to continue the theme of the savory
menu, says Brian Mercury, executive pastry chef. “Dessert is a whole other course in itself. By
hungry and wanting more, and adds depth of flavor.”
Joy Cuevas, pastry chef at SOCA, Sherman Oaks, California, takes cues from the
savory menu when planning her dessert lineup. “Our dessert menu is pretty simple,” she
says. “I see what the savory side is doing in terms of spices, herbs and proteins, and I
Creating savory desserts is a good way for pastry chefs to grow and experiment,
says Genie Kwon, pastry chef at Oriole, Chicago. “I’ve recently been trying to
Kwon is responsible for the final four or five courses of the 15-course tasting
menu at Oriole. “I do the best I can to leave a lasting impression but not overwhelm
people, because they’ve had so many courses already,” she says.
Her dessert courses are smaller bites, and she tries to incorporate a lot of flavors
in compact packages. To keep guests engaged, she creates handheld, one-bite items.
“I try to keep the dessert portion of the menu to a dozen bites, total,” Kwon
says. “One savory dessert is a croissant filled with Ashbrook cheese and rosemary
One challenge, she says, is that many people do not like chocolate. She also
needs to show a range of technique.