1. Congratulations on your triple post as Pastry Chef at Benno, Leonelli Taberna, and Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria. What does your usual day look like at the restaurant group?
Thank you! When I work in the morning, my day starts at 5 am. I coordinate the bakery setup and oversee the production of viennoiserie (breakfast pastries), cookies, and cakes that are baked fresh every day. Once the bakery is up and running, I assist my team in producing the components for our various pastries and desserts for the restaurants. My evenings also entail production, but I am much more involved in service for Leonelli Taberna and Benno. I attend pre-service meetings for each restaurant to educate and provide an opportunity for the front of house teams to taste and discuss the desserts. Once service begins, I assist and oversee plating of our creations. The remainder of my time is spent on recipe development, mentoring my cooks, and general administrative duties.
2. You’re a classically trained chef with a degree in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and a certificate in French Pastry Arts from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux, France. In addition, you have worked in award-winning restaurants, including Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, and Gramercy Tavern. Describe for us the pivotal point that led to your current career.
When I was studying at Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie, I saw how far pastry could be taken not only as a career, but an art form. I became infatuated with the consistency and perfection of technique combined with the endless possibilities for creative expression.
3. What are some of your favorite dessert creations? What makes the dish so memorable?
One of my favorite creations is a recent one, which was on the opening dessert menu of Benno. It was a rosemary-infused flan served with spiced pumpkin seeds, citrus-poached cranberries, and brown butter gelato. The reason I think the dish is so memorable is because the strong savory notes balance well with the creamy sweetness of the flan, complemented by the acidy of the cranberries and candied lemon.
4. Valentine’s Day is coming up next month. Do you have any dessert recommendations for the occasion?
Dessert made for two is a nice, romantic gesture that concludes the meal with sweet intimacy.
5. Is there any advice you can share with others who are interested in the culinary arts?
Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. Also, patience is key—it takes time and repetition to hone any skill.
6. Switching gears to your life outside of the pastry kitchen–how do you like to spend your free time?
I love music and film and spend my off time at home with my cat, Moses.
7. When you’re not dining in the Evelyn Hotel, where else do you like to eat in Flatiron? Do you have a go-to dish?
I really dig Hanjan on 26th Street. I love the spicy rice cake; it has a fabulous texture!
8. What do you consider a “must-see” or “must-do” here in the neighborhood?
Definitely check out the art installations at Madison Square Park. One of my favorites was a piece called Fata Morgana by New York-based artist Teresita Fernández. The installation consisted of mirrors cut in organic patterns suspended above the walkway that caught light and images in a way that transformed the Park.
9. What’s your favorite building or in the area?
My favorite building in the area is the New York Life Building. My grandfather, father, and mother all worked there at different points in time; my parents met while working there. It seems providential that I would wind up working footsteps away from family history.
10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.