Pastry chefs flex their creative muscles with specialty desserts.
When balanced and thoughtful, specialty desserts are a sweet addition to any club’s culinary repertoire.
At the Country Club of Detroit (CCD), Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., Pastry Chef Amy Knoles keeps her ever-changing menus fresh and seasonal. She balances familiar classics, like brownie sundaes, with upscale, artistic creations like a warm peach cake served with a poached pear, a ribbon of lavender-infused mascarpone panna cotta, and a quenelle of peach and prosecco sorbet.
Mark Pavao, Pastry Chef at Biltmore Forest Country Club (BFCC), Asheville, N.C., echoes the same strategy with his five-item menu, which changes twice each season.
“We just did a jeweled mango with coconut cream topped with a chocolate foam that was really popular,” he says.
Both clubs rely on seasonal fruits and herbs for their menu strategies, picking the ripest items, like berries and herbs, from their chefs’ gardens and surrounding properties.
At BFCC, Pavao is especially conscious of plating techniques, so the desserts won’t overwhelm the garde manger who handles plating during service.
“Plating is a big part of our menu design,” he says. “We try to only menu one item that is really intricate, so the garde manger has time to make it look perfect.”
BFCC’s pastry team creates a packet of information, including descriptions, flavor profiles and pictures, for the staff at each new menu launch.
“We do tastings as well,” he says. “It’s especially important for the servers to know what the dessert tastes like and how it’s made.”
Knoles agrees. “I’d rather the servers describe how a dessert is made instead of using obscure terms that no one knows,” she says.
When it comes to plating at CCD, Knoles leans toward more modern designs, even though her desserts tend to be more comforting and rustic.
“We just ran a rum baba that was a huge hit at a buffet a few months ago,” says Knoles. “Buffets are a great place to test-drive new dessert ideas [and] get a feel for how your membership is going to react.”
It’s also a sweet venue for pushing the pastry envelope.
“We have the privilege of working in a high-end private club,” says Pavao. “Going over the top from time to time with our desserts—both on the buffet and in a la carte—is part and parcel to what we do.”