I began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen, washing dishes in a steak house in our local shopping center, finally ended up at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, working with Alice Waters and co-owner, Executive Pastry Chef Lindsey Shere, who I consider my mentor. I spent thirteen years in the kitchens at Chez Panisse before leaving in 1999. During my time in San Francisco, I was a line cook at Zuni Café and was the pastry chef at several restaurants.
Having been a professional cook and baker most of my life, I launched this website in 1999 to coincide with the release of my first book, Room for Dessert. The site was intended as a place to share recipes and stories. At the time, the word “blog” hadn’t been invented, nor had the concept. In 2004, about the time of my move to Paris, blogging software became available, which allowed me to post more frequently and I turned the site into an official blog.
I was named one of the Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle and have been featured in, Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, Cooking Light, Food+Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, People, Saveur, Sunset, and USA Today.
I left the restaurant business in 1999 to pursue writing books and live in Paris.
I’ve written seven books. The first two were the critically acclaimed Room for Dessert and Ripe for Dessert, which are now out of print and considered collectible. (If you are looking for a copy, check out used book websites.)
Afterward I went on to write The Great Book of Chocolate, which was my ode to my favorite ingredient – chocolate! This guidebook to chocolate includes recipes and profiles chocolate makers as well as providing a look at how chocolate is made and how chocolatiers transform this amazing ingredient into luscious confections.
The Perfect Scoop is my best-selling guide to making homemade ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, and all the good stuff that gets swirled and mixed in and ladled on top.
The Sweet Life in Paris tells the story of my move to Paris, including all the ups and downs. It’s a collection of stories about how I adjusted to life in a city that sometimes left me scratching my head, but ultimately won me over. The book features nearly fifty recipes, both sweet and savory, and was a finalist for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Literary Award.
Ready for Dessert is a collection of my all-time favorite recipes, some from my first two books, which were updated and revised for the book. There are also new recipes for cakes, cookies, ice creams, pies, crisps, and other treats.
My latest book, My Paris Kitchen (Ten Speed), is a compendium of savory and sweet recipes and stories, cultivated from years shopping, baking, and cooking in Paris. My Paris Kitchen was named the best cookbook of the year by Amazon, and a variety of national and international publications.
My Food & Recipes
I use basic, honest ingredients; fresh fruit, good quality chocolate, real vanilla, and pure butter. I don’t believe that baking (or cooking) should be out of reach to people and strive to share recipes that are do-able for a majority of cooks and home bakers.
Although I was trained as a pastry chef, with certificates from Callebaut College in Belgium, as well as Ecole Lenôtre and Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat in France, I do like to venture into savory cooking from time to time.
When I started the blog, I had little idea that blogging would take off like it did, and now my blog is one of the most fulfilling, exciting things that I do. I get to interact with readers from all over the world, sharing stories and recipes, and it’s been quite a learning experience. I’m thrilled that I’ve made friends around the world with other people as intensely interested in food, travel, and cooking as I am!
I maintain entire control of the site with technical help from folks more versed in all that stuff than I am. All text, recipes, and photographs are by me – unless otherwise noted.
Readers are welcome to contact me.