Khanh Tran, the lauded pastry chef at the Bachelor Farmer, approaches her work with a use-what-you-have mindset. “I was born in Vietnam, and we didn’t throw anything away,” she explains. Her black vanilla ice cream, for example, uses scraps of vanilla bean; burnt-caramel ice cream salvaged a mistake to delicious effect (“I kept burning batches of caramel because the stove was across the kitchen”). Tran’s desserts are inspired by familiar flavors tweaked by creative contrasts. “At home I do pumpkin pie, but for the restaurant, I didn’t want to go the whole way there—I wanted to refine it,” she explains of her freeform pumpkin custard, served with an almond sable cookie in lieu of a crust. “It’s about taking those warm flavors and figuring out how to make them work in a plated dessert.” Although there were missteps along the way—Tran first tried adding sage directly to the pumpkin custard (“awful”), then created a sage syrup that wouldn’t overwhelm the pumpkin flavor. “It’s about blending the core of a classic with what’s modern,” she says.
Part 1: Chef Steven Brown of Tilia
Part 2: Chef Håkan Lundberg of The Minneapolis Club
Part 3: Chef Landon Schoenefeld of Nighthawks