Posts By: Dana Cree

Meet Leigh!

Leigh Omilinsky has been haunting the pastry departments of Chicago for the past decade, a city not far from where she grew up. From the fine dining kitchen of Tru, to the immaculate halls of Laurant Gras once great L20, Leigh is well versed in avant garde desserts. She climbed the ranks of the boutique… Read more »

Starting the conversation

The window I’ve opened here into my own kitchen experiences no longer looks into a pastry department. Instead, it looks into a fledgeling dairy, a pasture in Wisconsin with a growing herd of 36 grass munching cows, and a LOT of milk. But since we aren’t changing the name of this blog to “The Dairy… Read more »

The next chapter

I’ve recently let go of my position in the pastry department at Blackbird and Avec. No easy decision, these two restaurants have been my home away from home for the last 3 and a half years, and the people inside like family. It’s the best way to leave a restaurant, still loving and longing for… Read more »

Trailing

We are in the process of rehiring for two positions between Blackbird and Avec. Part of the interview process for a cooks position is a trail, which is kind of a trial of sorts, often called a stage. This is a physical interview, in which the team hiring has a chance to see if the… Read more »

Fruit Puree

Fruit purees, bright viscous liquid fruits, are a staple in a pastry kitchen. They are the base for sauces, ice creams, panna cottas, fluid gels, mousses, and glazes. Most home cooks, even those that collect the cookbooks of restaurant pastry chefs, will be unfamiliar with the kinds of purees stocked in the pastry kitchen. Recipes,… Read more »

Creative Obligation

I’m doing something really mean to my staff this week. I’m taking away all their mingardise recipes. Not to test their memorization skills, or make their jobs unduly difficult. I’m forcing creativity. One of the tenants of my department is creative obligation. I’ve noticed that when creative participation is a privilege, an option, it’s often… Read more »

peanut buttery hypocrisy

I share recipes. All of them. It’s one of the deepest arteries of our pastry kitchen at Blackbird, pumping fiercely through our body of work. It started the day Heston Blumenthal opened his recipe book to me as a young stage, a stark contrast to the restaurant I had come from, one that wrote recipes… Read more »

just stick it in your mouth

There are very few moments when I will sit down and eat dessert just for the sake of it. It seems counter intuitive, a pastry chef who doesn’t eat dessert. It’s not that I don’t like desserts, I do! But day after day after day of mixing, tasting, baking, tasting, freezing, tasting, blending, tasting, testing,… Read more »

Rhubarb sorbet, then and now

A rhubarb sorbet made today took my thoughts back 10 years to the first menu I had creative control over. I had just started my tenure as pastry chef at a wine bar named Eva, a small farm-to-table restaurant in a tiny seattle neighborhood called Tangletown. I’d grown up visiting the little pocket of dead-ending… Read more »

On being a female chef

I’ve been receiving a lot of media attention lately. You see, I’ve been nominated for a James Beard award in the outstanding pastry chef category. It’s an incredible honor, and one that has brought a lot of attention to my department at Blackbird, and me as a chef. More specifically, it’s brought a lot of… Read more »