December 31, 2010
1. Why and how did you decide to become a pastry chef?
I was already a graduate of the University of Delaware for Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management and I matriculated into Johnson and Wales University. I always dreamed of being a big time restauranteur; nevertheless, I was in my last year of Bachelors in Culinary Arts at Johnson and Whales University and I kept watching the pastry students and all the artwork they were doing. They were making these sweet delicacies, candies, cakes and so forth. Plus, it was even more artwork, sculptures, cakes etc. I knew then that I had to enter the pastry program. So I finished the bachelors in culinary arts and on to pastry I went.
2. When did you start baking?
I think it was in high school really. I had a food class with Mrs Lakey and I started to like it. We made cookies, biscuits, pies, etc. At home I was baking everything. I could get my hands on. I was blowing through sugar, flour, butter as fast as my mom could get it. At one point my mother said hey you have to eat all this stuff you are baking. There were cookies, muffins, and biscuits everywhere.
3. What is your favorite recipe?
I think if you are talking about cake it’s the Red Velvet, Death By Chocolate, Orange, or Strawberry Strawberry. If it's outside of cake it's my cheesecakes...they are awesome! Even the vanilla cheesecake is phenomenal. It can be married with almost any flavor.
4. Did you have any challenges with learning how to bake?
There were definitely challenges. I was on the culinary side of the business. Culinary and pastry are two different animals. There are times in culinary where you can wing it and come out with outstanding results. You cannot do that with pastry. Pastry is one of those exact sciences where deviation can be disastrous.
5. With Next Great Baker, how were you chosen for the show?
There was a lengthy application and then you had to submit a video showing your personality. After that you had to wait and pray. Then there are other interviews and then waiting to be selected.
6. Any moments on the show you loved...didn't like?
I loved everything. The good and bad are what make the experience challenging and worth it. It’s the ability to produce and win under pressure that makes you better.
7. How has this affected your business? Your life?
The effect has been great. By going through a competition like this one, you are constantly learning. Buddy has already been in the industry 20 years so he knows a great deal. Working alongside the other bakers you see a lot of different techniques and styles, tools and new toys. In terms of my life, the publicity is great and the rest is to be written.
8. If not a Pastry Chef, what would you be?
It’s going to sound crazy but possibly a race car driver. I loved watching Andretti and Fittipaldi rip around the track. I guess its natural, I love exotic cars like the Bugatti, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, etc. Speed is always a rush.
9. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start in the bakery business?
Be ready. Be prepared. Be realistic. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither will your bakery empire. It will take a lot of sacrifice to get to the next level.
10. What type of schooling or baking background do you have?
- BS from University of Delaware in Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management98’
- BS from Johnson and Wales University in Culinary Arts 00’
- AS from Johnson and Wales University in Pastry Arts02’
Visit the 'Sugar Daddy's' website at: www.dessertsbydana.com
Chocolate Caramel Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Bacon
prep time 20 min / cook time1 hour 20 min / servings 12
6 pieces of bacon crumbled
1 container caramel apple dip
3 lb cream cheese
2 cups sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
½ cup melted chocolate
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups graham cracker
½ cup sugar
1 stick butter
1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup sugar, and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture in the bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan and pat firmly and evenly in the bottom. I generally like to wrap my spring form pans at the bottom with aluminum foil to ensure they will not leak.
3. In a food processor, blend the cream cheese, 2 cups sugar, vanilla and almond extract, and peanut butter until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time.
4. Once combined, Add the melted chocolate until well incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring form pan. Place the pan in another larger pan. You want to create a water bath so that your cheesecake will bake slowly and evenly. Fill the larger pan with water and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes until done.
5. One finished, allow the cheesecake to cool and put in the refrigerator. Once chilled and unmolded top with caramel and bacon bits.