Suzanne LaFleur Pastry Chef at Perbacco and BarbaccoJanuary 26, 2012
Like me, Suzanne LaFleur, pastry chef at Perbacco and Barbacco, began her kitchen career on the savory side. Raised in San Jose, she graduated from The California Culinary Academy and her work resume includes The Grand Café, Waterfront, Silks and Yoshi’s. Her first pastry chef job was at Silks.
Looking back over her restaurant experiences she feels that savory work taught her many skills she uses on a daily basis in pastry. Among them, how to not crowd a pan for better results and working the grill for speed and efficiency. Bruce Hill at Waterfront was influential as she learned from his impressive palate.
Most recently her go to dessert cookbooks are Frozen Desserts by Francisco J. Migoya and anything by David Lebovitz and Gina DePalma.
Earlier this week we sat down at Waterbar and chatted about desserts.
EL: What flavors/ingredients do you like best?
SL: A couple of different things. Anything with malt. I just got back from Fiji and I found an Australian malt called Milo. I can’t wait to use it.
(Another thing Suzanne and I have in common is going to grocery stores when we travel internationally. It’s fun to see different things on the shelves.)
Cardamom- the green pods, not the ground up black kind.
Caramelized White Chocolate- I put it in a big hotel pan, bake it at 200 degrees and constantly stir it. Anything with crunch- cocoa nibs and feuillentine (crushed cookies that taste like sugar cones.
What flavors/ingredients do you like least?
Licorice and Guava
What dessert first comes to mind when I mention the following ingredients:
Rhubarb – Jam Filled Zeppole
Passion fruit – Pate de fruit
Chocolate –Devil’s Food Cake
Berries – Summer Pudding (I like to add a splash of Cointreau)
Coconut Coconut Milk Caramels
Apples – Coffee Cake
What dessert has someone else created that you loved?
Christina Tosi’s (Momofuku Milk Bar) Candy Bar Pie. It’s modeled after a Take 5 Candy Bar with a chocolate crust, layers of peanut butter, chocolate, and caramel pretzels.
What ingredient would you like to see used more in the pastry kitchen or appreciated by diners?
Quince. Before it went out of season I served it poached with gingerbread cake and squash seed brittle.
What kitchen tool would you be lost without?
A Chinois. If you can strain it you probably should.
What’s your least favorite pastry trend?
French macarons. I appreciate them and recognize they take skill to make but they are overdone.
What do people not know about you that you wish they did?
I recently got into scuba diving.
Where do you like to eat out in the city?
Sushizone on Market near Destino and Broken Record on Geneva. The latter is primarily a bar but they have a window in the back where you can order really good comfort food.
What was the last thing you made outside of work?
My girlfriend and I made peppercorn crusted New York Steaks with a potato gratin.
What’s your go to breakfast?
Polenta and coffee.