Stories / Interviews, Awards

Q & A with JBF Award Nominee Hedy Goldsmith

Elena North-Kelly

Elena North-Kelly

April 05, 2013


Pastry chef and author Hedy Goldsmith has garnered widespread acclaim for her innovative desserts at Miami’s chic Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (and, more recently, the Cypress Room). We got in touch with the repeat Outstanding Pastry Chef award nominee to learn about her go-to cookbooks, her favorite places to eat in Miami and beyond, and her ultimate comfort food.


JBF: We’ve read that you went to art school—what brought you from the world of fine arts into the culinary arts?

HG: Art school prepared me to become a more creative pastry chef. A blank canvas or blank dessert plate calls for the same creativity.

JBF: What is your current favorite item on the menu at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink?

HG: It’s hard to single out a favorite because the menu often changes from week to week, depending on what's fresh and seasonal. This week, I'm digging anything with Minneola oranges, mulberries, and "yummy" peppers (yes, that's really their name). Right now at the Cypress Room, my favorite dessert is my Toasted Oregon Hazelnut Parfait served with dry caramel, puffed faro, and pickled cherries. And the other night at Michael's Genuine, I ate a killer yet simple house salad with unbelievable Florida peaches, radishes, pistachios, and feta.

JBF: Does Florida’s climate and local produce inspire your creations?

HG: Florida's growing season no doubt dictates our menu items. I start thinking about lychee and mango season while we are in strawberry season. Our tropical produce is very sexy and sweet. 

JBF: Does your pastry approach differ between the original Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink location and outpost in Grand Cayman?

HG: The Grand Cayman desserts are a bit larger and sweeter than in Miami. Not sure why, but that's what guests want at that restaurant, and, as a pastry chef, all I want to do is make people smile—it's the last thing they'll remember from their meal.

JBF: Do you have a favorite recipe from your new cookbook, Baking Out Loud?

HG: Hands down, my Buttered Popcorn Gelato. Savory meets sweet in a scoop of frozen goodness. But I’d have to say that a close second is my Chocolate Cake with Coconut, Cardamom, and Curry. The media has really called out my love of childhood treats, but there are so many recipes with more sophisticated flavors. There's nothing kid-like in that bite of amazing flavors.

JBF: What are some of your favorite cookbooks and why?

HG: I'm often asked this question and my answer always remains the same: Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Another favorite from way back is The Frog Commissary Cookbook. The introduction to my cookbook is like an ode to Maida Heatter, who has more cookbooks than I can count. She inspired me to bake. 

JBF: What is your current favorite place to dine out in Miami? And what is your favorite dish there?

HG: I so enjoy dining alfresco at Mandolin Aegean Bistro just north of the Design District. Their whole fish is fresh, simply grilled, and fantastic. I also love La Camaronera's lobster sandwich. Yep, fresh seafood is my thing.

JBF: What is your favorite food city to visit and why?

HG: Los Angeles. It has such great produce; everywhere you turn there's another farmers’ market.  And the dairy is amazing, too! My favorite menus reflect what is best at that moment, and I need a dose of Pizzeria Mozza, Son of a Gun, and Lucques every time I'm there.

JBF: What is your ultimate comfort food?

HG: Grilled cheese, especially on a Sunday. Comfort food + a day off = heaven.

About the author: Elena North-Kelly is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.