Brûlée at The Hub’s Pastry Chef: “It’s What I Love Doing.”
November 19, 2015
The holidays are nearly upon us, so naturally our thoughts are turning to food and presents. (And okay, yes, togetherness and joy.) In the vein of all of these things, we talked to James Rodebaugh, the Executive Pastry Chef at Brûlée Catering, who becomes our favorite person every time we run our eyes over a dessert buffet or sink our teeth into one of his handmade donuts. (Chef James makes every single donut by hand.)
In this Q&A, Chef James gives us an insider’s view to the sweet, sweet world of pastry and dessert—and gives you a few tips to get the Brûlée experience at home.
The Hub: Tell us about the moment you realized that pastry and desserts were the medium you wanted to convey your culinary talents in.
Chef James: There really wasn’t one singular moment per se. It was more just a definite awareness of what made me happy and what I really enjoyed doing. I always liked being creative, and I have an eye for art and color, so pastry seemed the way to go.
Plus, once I realized that I am good at what I do, and that people really enjoy my work, then I just became more driven to stay in pastry.
The Hub: We’re happy to hear it! Pastry and dessert is definitely the best part of many meals, but the selections you prepare for The Hub always seem perfectly paired to the entrees and sides that are planned for our events; is there a secret formula you use to ensure a good match?
Chef James: No secret formula at all; just knowing food and food pairings, having the knowledge to know what goes together and what doesn’t, and also understanding the flow of the meal. For instance, you really don’t want a very heavy dessert at the end of a light meal, or even an intense dessert after an intense meal. I look for what will make the guest enjoy every bite, from start to finish. Being in this business teaches you that after awhile. You want the meal to be in harmony.
The Hub: What’s it like to prepare desserts and pastries for many, as opposed to preparing desserts for a few or at home?
Chef James: If you’re prepping for a major event with many guests, your day starts a little earlier than you might like, but there really is no difference in the end. It just depends on when you start producing and about making it as easy as possible to mass-produce.
After a while you get into a rhythm, and it all becomes second nature. I actually prefer producing for say 500 people plus: It’s exciting being able to produce 4000 mini-pastries and doing it successfully. There’s nothing that I would rather do in life than this!
The Hub: From a guest’s point of view, 4000 mini-pastries sounds like a dream. Tell us about your favorite dessert that you’ve prepared for The Hub so far in Brûlée’s tenure with us. What about it makes it stand out in your head?
Chef James: I really don’t have a favorite. I do like our “Let It Snow” station that we developed. It changes every holiday season. It’s a lot of fun to see holiday-themed desserts fully assembled on a buffet. Snowmen macarons, reindeer doughnuts, snowflake cookies, frosty Oreos, etc… It’s definitely one of my favorite buffets. It’s also time for the next “Let It Snow” rendition to come out–I can’t wait.
The Hub: Us, neither! Now for a bonus question: For those who want to re-create the Brûlée experience at home, can you share with us a recipe that our readers can make in their own kitchens?
Chef James: How about a few tips to help the readers to recreate the Brûlée in their own homes intead?
- Pick a few items you really like and pour love into them.
- Change the way they look and how you present them; you and your food will appreciate the makeover.
- Pair contrasting flavors and textures that will really wow your guests, or just make you happy.
- Eat with your eyes first; it’s the nicest thing you can do for your food.
- Garnish your plates and buffets to really make them stand out.
- Lastly, just have fun! Cooking is supposed to be fun at the root of it all.
- If all else fails…just call Brûlée. We will make your event perfect!!!
Thanks for spending time with us, Chef! We’re looking forward to seeing the new “Let It Snow” dessert station!
What’s your favorite holiday dessert? Tell us in the comments below.