Chef Sherry Yard
Meet our Featured Chef: SHERRY YARD Executive Pastry Chef Sherry's passion for baking was born in her grandmother's Brooklyn kitchen, where she remembers being awakened with her sisters for midnight suppers of spaghetti and ice cream floats served on heirloom Limoges china. Her early education at New York City Technical College and the Culinary Institute of America led her to New York City's top restaurants, including the celebrated Rainbow Room, Montrachet and the Tribeca Grill. She then moved west to command the pastry kitchen at San Francisco's critically acclaimed Campton Place Restaurant, nationally reknown for their breakfasts, afternoon teas and Sunday brunch. A move to Napa Valley brought her to Jan Birnbaum's restaurant, Catahoula, as pastry chef, giving her the opportunity to capitalize on the abundance of fresh local products available to her. It was here, where in addition to her desserts, she created the dozens of specialty breads that became the restaurant’s signature. Sherry joined Spago Hollywood as Pastry Chef in 1994 and quickly made her mark on the L.A. restaurant scene. Her advocacy of searching out locally grown ingredients from neighborhood farmer's markets impacted her innovative desserts, which are often created à la minute. Her style embodies subtle layering of pure flavors and a delicate balance of taste. "I’ve learned to use ingredients as a seasoning or a tool, and, that in making desserts, I think of sugar as my ‘friend’ and not as my ‘love’," said Yard in describing her method. “I continue to be inspired by other talents and learn new things daily just by virtue of waking up and appreciating what surrounds me. I always find my greatest satisfaction in watching the serving staff return to the kitchen with empty plates from sated guests." Sherry creates her dessert menus seasonally and changes them according to product availability, using almost exclusively California-grown produce. Spring offers inspiration when she can select from the multitude of varietal peaches, cherries and apricots that are grown locally. She is devoted to preserving fruits so that she may use them appropriately in off-season times rather than importing products from other countries. One of her signature dishes, the “Halsey Tart,” is a confection that tributes her mentor, Professor Halsey, the creator of the Twix® candy bar. She loves making soufflés and constantly searches for new combinations of flavors that will please her customers. In addition to creating the dessert menu for Spago Beverly Hills, Sherry is also involved in the pastry menu development at Wolfgang Puck’s other fine dining and casual dining restaurants. Sherry’s desserts have received accolades from Vogue’s Jeffrey Steingarten and Gourmet’s Ruth Reichl. Her Kaiserschmarren dessert was selected as one of the Top Ten Dishes from GQ's Alan Richman, and her Malakofftorte was the winner of Los Angeles Magazine's Best Dessert, 1998. Sherry received the award for the Southern California Restaurants Writers' Association's Pastry Chef of The Year for 1998-1999, Bon Appetit’s Food and Entertaining Awards Pastry Chef of the Year for 2000 and, after four previous nominations, claimed the prize for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year for 2002. She has created show-stopping desserts for the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, and for the last eight Governors' Ball dinners that follow the Academy Awards® broadcast. She has been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Gourmet and has appeared on Good Morning America, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, E! Entertainment Television, Access Hollywood, the Food Network, the Restaurant Show on KABC and New York’s WKOR. Sherry is on the Board of Directors of the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) organization and is active in the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), which educates inner-city children and gives scholarships to culinary schools. She is also personally involved in the Cedars-Sinai Children's and Women's Cancer Foundations, the American Cancer Society and the Meals-on-Wheels program in Los Angeles. Sherry first collection of recipes, “Secrets of Baking,” to be published by Houghton-Mifflin, will debut in Fall 2003. When she is not busy in Spago’s kitchen creating delicious desserts, Sherry takes her chocolate labrador retreiver, Chunk, for rides though the Hollywood Hills in her new turquoise Thunderbird. She and Chunk live in Los Angeles.
Recipes by Chef Sherry Yard
CHOCOLATE CRÈME BRULEE
- 1 cup Milk
- 3 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 cup Sugar
- 4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped fine
- 8 Egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
In a heavy metal stock pot combine the heavy cream, and sugar.
Bring to a boil.
Pour over chocolate. Do not stir. Allow to infuse for 2 minutes.
Stir until the chocolate is dissolved.
In a large mixing bowl whisk the yolks.
Pour ladles of chocolate milk onto yolks immediately whisking gently until homogeneous.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour into desired container set in hot water bath,
Bake for 30 minutes or until just set with no jiggle when touched.
Carefully remove pan from oven, and place the ramekins on a new sheet tray and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Dust with sugar and burn with propane torch.
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