Take 5 with Belinda Leong

| March 22, 2005 | 4 Comments
  • 4 Comments


Title: Pastry Chef, Restaurant Gary Danko
Home town: San Francisco

1. How did you become a pastry chef?
You know the happiness people get from good food? That’s what drew me to cooking.

I fell into pastry. I went to culinary school at City College but I didn’t learn too much about pastry there. I did savory first. But I’m a picky eater and I realized I can’t cook savory stuff if I can’t try it. I can eat a lot more sweets.

2. What are your favorite fruits?
Strawberries and lemons. I just love berries. Lemons are so versatile and such a flavor enchancer. I think strawberries go with everything–in breakfast items, in desserts, panna cotta, crepes, with chocolate…

3. If you could take one thing off every menu in America what would it be?
Warm chocolate cake is so played out. I see it on every menu now. But our clientele really likes rich chocolate. My ultimate dessert is basically chocolate chocolate chocolate. It’s three layers of chocolate–a rice crispy hazelnut base with chocolate ganache and a whipped cream lightened ganache mousse and a bittersweet chocolate sorbet.

4. What big trends do you see in desserts?
Deconstructed desserts. I saw one deconstructed dessert cake with a pile of cherries and alcohol on the side. But who wants to drink a shot of kirsch? It can only go so far if it’s just components.

Pastry here is about comfort. On the East Coast there are more components to dessert. Here a lot of people do a tart with ice cream but I would add one more component. My style is comfort redefined.

Another trend is fun desserts from childhood. For instance I make a PBJ, it’s a peanut butter mousse and jam, filo instead of bread and milk ice cream. It’s fun flavors. Lately I’ve been playing with the “got milk” idea. I’ll make something like milk foam or milk ice cream to go with rich foods.

On the menu right now I like the lemon souffle cake with raspberry swirl ice cream. Lemon souffle cake is getting to be common, but it’s so good. Lemon pudding cake or fallen souffle cake–it’s like the new molten chocolate cake.

5. What do your order when you go out to breakfast, sweet or savory?
Breakfast is my favorite meal. I always like to order sweets. I’ll order french toast, pancakes, waffles. I don’t really like eggs.

When dining, I’ll order 2 or 3 desserts. Crepes, anything with berries, citrusy fruits, I like panna cotta a lot. Delfina makes a good one. Panna cotta makes me really happy.

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink

About the Author ()

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her friends and family were constantly asking her where and what to eat. Three months after it launched, Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the top five best food blogs, praising her writing as “smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and the world. In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes restaurant reviews for SF Station. Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook reviews along with some interviews and current events. Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer. She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine. She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.
  • Nic

    I love this new feature! I love that a pastry chef was interviewed, since I feel like sometimes they’re left in the shadows of the other chefs. Belinda Leong is my new hero.

  • Derek

    Great feature on a terrific girl. I’m glad to see that she still has a great smile and a love for sweets. I’m a former classmate of Belinda from City College and would hope to talk to her soon. I’m a sous chef at Yi Cuisine in Los Angeles at the moment.

  • She Unlimited

    Hi there;

    I had the opportunity to eat at Gary Dankos a long time ago, I am not sure if Belinda was on site at the time.

    I do remember an awesome dessert trio I had it was a creme burless trio, jus t awesome.

  • She Unlimited

    Sorry, creme burlee!