Posts By: Dana Cree

What to do when your chef leaves

The latest column from Chefs Feed, this one discusses what happens to those left behind when a chef leaves. I’ve left a team behind at blackbird, just as I inherited one when I arrived. Likewise, I’ve been a cook, left behind when a chef decided to move on and a new one brought a sea of change into… Read more »

Meet Danielle!

Danielle Snow walked into my life one lunch service, over a year ago. She had applied for the pastry cook position I had posted, and took it upon herself to come in and express her interest in person. It takes guts to cold call a chef, in person. It must, because I’ve rarely seen it… Read more »

How to make Pate a Choux

  To hear me say it sounds like “padda shoe.” The phoenetics for the French term I’m most certainly mispronouncing, pate de choux, announces one of the most versatile recipes in classic patisserie. Somewhere between a dough and a batter, pate de choux takes it’s name from the rough, cabbage-like shape of the dough when… Read more »

How To Laminate Dough

  I’m never surprised to hear that home cooks are intimidated by puff pastry. With 729 layers—yes, really—puff pastry can make you feel like you have 729 opportunities to mess up. But it isn’t only amateurs who shy away from the extravagantly layered pastry—puff pastry strikes fear into the heart of professional cooks as well…. Read more »

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 »


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 »