What inspires Utah’s best dessert makers? Reading, travel and chocolate
We all seek inspiration in our daily work and life and often look to others to spark our next big idea. So, who or what do Utah’s best bakers and pastry chefs consult when they need inspiration for their next sugary confection or spongy dough? We chatted with three talented women who share their thoughts on their inspired creations.
“I find much inspiration by traveling,” explains Romina Rasmussen, owner and pastry chef at Les Madeleines, whose French-style café celebrated 15 years in business this past December. “Whether it’s my annual trip to Paris or somewhere new. Traveling clears my head, and I find that getting away gets the creative juices flowing.” Rasmussen recalls that the “madeleines” in the Les Madeleines logo are based on a railing she saw at Le Bon Marché in Paris.
She is adept at finding inspiration in things she experiences on every trip, whether it’s a flavor combination that she’s encountered or a bit of architecture. Finally, Rasmussen takes time to actively hone her craft. “I try to take classes every year to refresh my skills and sometimes pick up new techniques I can apply at Les Madeleines.”
216 E. 500 South, SLC
Tupelo’s pastry chef Shirley Butler credits her formative years with shaping her into the chef she is today. Growing up in the United Kingdom, she consumed a steady diet of Jamie Oliver on TV while her family’s potager garden supplied ample amounts of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits from the orchard. At 18, Butler moved to Paris where she witnessed full-scale dessert presentations at their finest. Today, she’s inspired by the vast amount of world-class chocolate made here in Utah that manifests in elegant and intriguing dessert combinations at Tupelo—including chocolate macarons spiked with Guinness, Irish whiskey and citrus all throughout the winter months.
508 Main, Park City
As head baker at Ryan Lowder’s newest restaurant The Daily, Caroline Hargraves says, “I just want to make people fat and happy!” Her ambition is regularly fueled by constant consumption of food media, whether that’s her growing collection of cookbooks or podcasts such as KCRW’s Good Food and The Bon Appetit Foodcast, in addition to a recent wave of food publications like Toothache, Ambrosia, Cherry Bombe and Sift. The community of professionals and home bakers she’s found via Instagram allows her to gain insight into flourishing food communities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. “They’re a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement,” she says. And they manifest themselves daily in her gloriously scored loaf creations available from the bakery.
222 S, Main, Ste 140, SLC