Chef Sara’s fondest memories have always been in a kitchen, wanting to get her hands in everything as a child. At a young age, she knew that being in a kitchen creating food and sharing memories is exactly what she wanted to do. Her journey to become Gravity Haus’ Executive Pastry Chef has taken her around the country, and the world, to places she pulls inspiration from to create beautiful, and delicious pastries.
After high school, she enrolled in Manchester Community College in Connecticut where she completed her food service and culinary arts associate’s degree. Her culinary journey then brought her to Johnson & Wales where she obtained a Bachelor Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts.
During this time Chef Sara had the opportunity to jet-set and study abroad in Singapore and Thailand. You’ll find her experience in Asia has brought great influence into her style when you sink your teeth into one of her delicious treats!
Chef Sara’s S’more Baked Alaska
Following graduation from Johnson & Wales, she spent 4 years in Boston, working at Harvest in Harvard Square then she focused on making gelato and Italian pastries at Babbo. Sara then became Pastry Sous Chef of Eataly Boston under Katia Delogu and Katie Kimble, learning to manage a large-scale pastry operation with multiple outlets.
After Eataly, she landed in San Francisco, where she worked at two Michelin star restaurant, Lazy Bear, where she was challenged and pushed in the strive for excellence. She also worked under Chef Angela Pinkerton at Theorita and Che Fico before becoming the Executive Sous Chef at Craftsman and Wolves, a contemporary pastry shop. After 4 months she was promoted to Executive Pastry Chef of Craftsman and Wolves where her style really developed and she grew a team of like-minded bakers.
Sara moved out to Colorado in the summer of 2021 to join the Gravity Haus community where she continues pushing to develop menus and a team that’s full of integrity. Get to know Sara better below!
Q&A WITH CHEF SARA
Q: What do you love about your work?
A: Food has always been a creative outlet for me. Growing up if I wasn’t baking, you could find me in the art room or in the spare kitchen that I turned into an art studio. I love how I’m a continual student and want to learn more about this craft. Also, because I love to learn new things, I’m always happy to pass what I’ve learned to others.
Q: What’s the most challenging pastry you’ve created?
A: The most challenging pastry but most rewarding is croissant making. It takes a lot of practice and patience to get those layers and honeycomb structure just right. It’s also very time and temperature sensitive, especially in altitude.
Q: What’s the most disastrous pastry situation you’ve experienced?
A: When I worked at Eataly we would make 100 kilo batches of Italian croissants. This recipe was crazy, on top of the volume I’m not kidding there were 15+ ingredients. So it was crucial that before you mix you have to triple check that everything is there. Also the mother took 9 hours and 3 feedings to ferment before the dough could be mixed. The mistake happened when 2 ingredients were forgotten but also the mixing wasn’t timed so it was over mixed. The dough got too warm and the gluten lost a lot of structure. We had to figure out how to make a whole batch of croissant that usually takes 3 days to make in a few hours. We did it, but boy was that stressful.
Q: What are some unassuming ingredients you’ve used to create something unique?
A: One ingredient that I’ve used in the past that’s unassuming is Osmanthus. I’ve never heard of it until I used it at Craftsman and Wolves. It’s a flowering plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s usually used as an infusion and it’s slightly bitter and mildly sweet. Another ingredient is Pandan, which is often referred to as being the ‘vanilla of the east’. It’s used predominantly in Southeast Asian cuisines, and has a grassy and coconut flavor to it.
Q: Your favorite traditional pastry? What about a “trend” in the pastry world at the moment?
My favorite traditional pastry will always be Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts). They are what I grew up eating on the weekends, it’s like if a croissant and creme brulee had a baby, heavenly!
The trends in chocolate and confections always grab my attention the most. Whether that be a new technique in spraying bon bon molds or a new technique in making chocolate decor. It’s impressive to see how far the world of chocolate keeps going.
Q: We know you can’t choose just one, but what’s NOT to miss on the menu currently?
A: Currently everyone seems to be enjoying the Unravel Mont Blanc Cheesecake. The base consists of a chestnut breton (a tender shortbread), then the cheesecake gets placed on top. The cream in the cheesecake gets infused with our Unravel coffee overnight and we also add housemade chestnut miso to the batter to give it a layer of umami, it also gives it a nutty yet foral note. On top of the cheesecake is a dollop of cassis jam. Then that all gets wrapped in a smooth and creamy chestnut whipped ganache that looks like spaghetti. The dessert is finished with a dusting of confectioners sugar to capture the look of a snow capped mountain, gold flakes add some glam, and cassis glass gives some extra texture and contrast.
Q: What’s one pastry that’s easy to make at home? Mind sharing some tips / the recipe?
A: I love a carrot cake and the carrot loaf that we carry at the Unravel cafe is a recipe I think is great for anyone interested in baking at home. My one tip is that, especially when baking loaves, I always give it a butter (or oil) dip. This little trick will make your quickbread loaves looking professional. All you do is take a bowl scraper (or knife) and dip the end in melted butter/ vegetable oil, then run it along the middle of the batter before it bakes. This allows for a perfect middle part running along the middle of the loaf. No more uneven or weird looking tops! Download Chef Sara’s Carrot Cake Loaf Recipe here.
Q: What’s unique about working with Gravity Haus compared to past roles you’ve held?
A: At Gravity Haus, I’ve gotten the opportunity to start a program from the ground up. It’s been exciting to be able to develop a program from ground zero. Also I’ve spent the last decade in cities, so being in a very different environment really makes it unique. The sense of community that’s been developed here is also very unique compared to any other place I’ve been, I love how tight it is.
Q: What do you bring to Gravity Haus that no other pastry chef can?
A: Everyone has a unique perspective they can bring to the table. Mine is that I’ve spent many years learning and managing high volume pastry kitchens. On top of being able to do anything and everything under the baking & pastry umbrella, aesthetics is big for me. Having an eye for finishing a dessert and being able to capture some wonder is my ultimate goal, aside from making sure it tastes great!
Q: When you’re not chefin’ it up – where can we find you and what will you be doing?
A: When I’m not in the kitchen I love being in the great outdoors, whether that be, going on a hike, paddleboarding, snowboarding. I love being adventurous and traveling! I also spend my free time reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.
Check out what Valhrona, a 100 year-old sustainable chocolate company has to say about Chef Sara!
Both Valrhona’s mission and Gravity Haus share a common theme of promoting positive change and sustainability through community efforts.
Valrhona’s Mission focuses on creating a fair and sustainable world of cocoa and inspiring pastry that benefits all stakeholders involved, from cocoa producers to consumers. Gravity Haus emphasizes collaboration across its community and sustainable impact. The idea of a collective movement to create positive change resonates with both organizations’ missions.