Q & A with Hedy Goldsmith of Michael’s Genuine Food & DrinkElena North-Kelly
April 23, 2012
At the Miami hotspot Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s whimsical yet sophisticated treats have earned an ardent following. We called up the Outstanding Pastry Chef award nominee to learn about her debut cookbook, the unexpected star of her repertoire, and how a Philly cheesesteak changed her life.
JBF: We’ve read that you like to draw on local fruits and herbs in your desserts, and that you use unexpected techniques like smoking. What are your favorite combinations?
HG: Smoked bittersweet chocolate with pickled mulberries; I was blown away at how great the flavors were together. I actually just served this dessert recently. Mulberry season is so short, so I try to jam-pack them with different flavors before they’re gone.
JBF: What’s your favorite dessert that you’ve made for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink lately?
HG: I was asked to pair a dessert with Macallan Fine Oak 15-Year-Old Scotch and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It was a roasted white chocolate semifreddo with chilled apricot soup, orange confit, house-dried blueberries, and toasted hazelnut–cinnamon biscotti. I hadn't planned on putting the dessert on the menu, but it was just too good not to share with our customers.
JBF: Your desserts are often inspired by childhood treats like Pop Tarts. Do any of the local baked goods in your native Philadelphia inspire what you make now?
HG: Absolutely! I'm not sure if a Tastykake is technically considered a local baked good, but they're definitely my reference point when creating childhood-inspired treats. I love giving people permission to enjoy nostalgic desserts and just giving them a little sophistication.
JBF: We hear that you have a cookbook, Baking Out Loud, coming out in October. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind that title?
HG: I'm not afraid of flavor. Quite the contrary: the more bold and in-your-face the flavors are, the better. The title indicates that the recipes aren't shy and that they definitely make a statement—like the chocolate cake with coconut, cardamom, and curry, for example.
JBF: What’s your go-to recipe when you’re cooking at home?
HG: I always go back to Judy Rodgers’s roast chicken and bread salad from The Zuni Café Cookbook. It's delicious and always reminds me that I'm home.
JBF: Where’s your favorite place to dine out in Miami? And what’s your favorite dish there?
HG: One of my favorite places right now is a little pop-up called Eating House in Coral Gables. The hands-down best dish for me is the tomato salad with frozen coconut milk. The tomatoes (grown in Homestead, about 30 minutes south of the restaurant) are perfectly ripe and contrast beautifully with the cool coconut. The chef also adds nuoc cham, lime, peanuts, ginger, coconut, and basil.
JBF: What’s your favorite cookbook and why?
HG: I just read and loved Mourad Lahlou's cookbook, New Moroccan. I'm passionate about Moroccan cuisine. The book itself is visually stunning and totally transforms me to an exotic place. The flavors are real and the stories are from his heart. It's also very cool that Aziza's pastry chef, Melissa Chou, is also nominated for the Outstanding Pastry Chef award.
JBF: What’s your earliest food memory?
HG: My earliest food memory also happens to be my favorite memory of my dad. When I was in nursery school, he used to take me to Pat's for a cheesesteak. I learned about Cheez Whiz and grease—and it was delicious. My dad would thinly-slice cherry peppers for me and add them to the sandwich. It was magical and remains my favorite food memory to this day.
About the author: Elena North-Kelly is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.