CIA-trained pastry nerd, prodigal food writer, and resident pastry wizard. Once upon a time, Stella cashed out her life savings to attend language school in Tokyo so she could read the secret menu at her favorite sushi joint. Later, Food & Wine cited that compulsive dedication in naming her one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs. When not in the kitchen, Stella spends most of her time polishing Star Trek quotes, playing video games, and waiting for the arrival of her first cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts.
Another one from my childhood. I was obsessed with the tidy photos of the mise en place for each recipe, and the visual detail for ever step. I wanted so badly for my own dessert prep and execution to seem that clean (I was, like, 12 at the time).
My parents gave me this book for my birthday when I was 14 years old, and it represented so many firsts for me! The first time I ever used weight measurements, the first time I'd ever made Swiss buttercream, the first time I ever made a sponge cake, and I was obsessed with all the variations that were included with each recipe.
Picked this during that same period, when I was a newly minted pastry chef and overthinking everything from technique to flavor profiles; it was a great reminder that classics are classic for a reason.
I started working in restaurants when I was 14, so by my second job post-culinary school as a so-called pastry chef, food was just work. But here's Nigella having the freaking time of her life on every page, drinking wine, measuring things by the handful, and generally having fun. It helped me get back to having fun in the kitchen.
Didn't discover this book until my second job as a pastry chef, and it was my first real introduction to the idea of amplifying a flavor by pairing it with a secondary flavor, like using nutmeg to amplify butter, or by layering different forms of the same flavor to create more dimension. Helped me unclutter my palette.
This 19th century cookbook was such an amazing resource as I was researching my own cookbook, and so shockingly ahead of its time, with recipes for desserts that we'd recognize as chocolate chip cookies or devil's food cake (though under more antiquated names).