The Year of the Pastry Chef
With a growing contingent of talented sweets makers on the scene, Sacramento is finally getting its just desserts.
By Marybeth Bizjak – Sacramento Magazine
In Sacramento, 2018 may go down as the Year of the Pastry Chef. Savory chefs have had a good run here for more than a decade. They spearheaded the farm-to-fork movement and opened dozens of exciting new restaurants. But now, pastry chefs are ascendant, finally getting the attention and respect they deserve. Like their savory brethren and sistren, they embrace local ingredients, modern techniques and unexpected flavor combinations. Some of them might even be gunning for Michelin star recognition, an honor that has so far eluded Sacramento’s most ambitious restaurant chefs. So who are Sacramento’s leading lights on the sweet side? Read on.
When Sacramento finally wins a Michelin star, it may be thanks to Beast + Bounty pastry chef Edward Martinez. The 32-year-old has already made his bones with the Michelin crowd: He’s worked at a number of starred restaurants, including Bistro Jeanty in Yountville and Lazy Bear in San Francisco.
Martinez has a rather unconventional back story for a pastry chef: Raised in Fresno, he joined a gang at 13, and by 20 he was looking at eight years in prison when a judge offered him probation if he enrolled in culinary school. He excelled, externing at Meadowood and finishing at the top of his class.
After school, he worked at Hawks in Granite Bay and Enotria on Del Paso Boulevard, then moved to the Bay Area, where he worked for celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, Michael Mina, Joey Elenterio and David Barzelay. In 2016 he won a StarChefs Rising Star award.
Last year, Martinez was lured back to Sac to create the dessert program at Beast + Bounty, Michael Hargis’ hearth-based restaurant in the ICE Blocks complex, set to open any minute. There, he’ll be making next-level rustic desserts using refined techniques: smoking chocolate for a whiff of the campfire, or curing pumpkin in calcium hydroxide, then roasting it over coals for a crunchy exterior and puddinglike interior.
Martinez has a savory sensibility. He’d rather eat steak and short ribs than cake, and he disdains overly sweet desserts. (“Sugar bombs,” he calls them.) He likes to contrast flavors and textures—sweet and sour, crunchy and soft—to keep diners coming back for another bite…