Posts Tagged anthony chavez

Weekly Roundup: Easter (or is it Spring?) is in the Air

Anthony Chavez's Easter Egg. Yes, it looks like an egg. No, that's actually a cream cheese mousse. Yes, I was also fooled.

So, I know that Easter is a predominately Christian holiday, but according to the Food Timeline, a lot of secular holiday traditions (*ahem* Easter eggs, Easter bunnies) have their roots in pagan celebrations of springtime. And, really, given the beautiful weather this weekend, I’m really digging the idea of celebrating the spring.

Which is why I found Anthony Chavez’s Easter dessert at 2941 particularly fun. It’s a cream cheese mousse with a mango couliss and carrot cake ice cream. First of all, it’s incredibly clever – taking the elements of carrot cake and turning them on their head. And secondly, the mousse is in a shape of an Easter Egg, which definitely appeals to my Easter-bunny-loving, secular side.

But I know you’re not here to hear about why I love Easter eggs. So here’s the foodie blog news from the past week:

  • Um, Macheesmo is starting a restaurant!!! How frickin’ cool is that? Of course, that means he’s moving to Wisconsin. Less cool. But overall – really frickin’ cool.
  • Definitely agreed with Tammy Tuck and Bruce Falconer’s shout out to Pizzaria Paradiso on Young and Hungry. Paradiso’s great beer selection was overlooked in the Best Craft Beer Selection and Best Draft Beer Selection categories in the City Paper’s “Best of DC” contest.
  • Thank God I’m not the only one who hasn’t done my taxes. Florida Girl in DC hasn’t thought about them either, but she already wants some tax relief, BLT steak style. Yes, on April 15th BLT Steak will be taking half off their alcohol – wine, cocktails, bottles, wines by the glass. And that’s all day. All day. Um, could we make April 16 a national holiday, please?
  • Sometimes, I wish I were Jewish. The history, the community, the rituals, the food – it’s such a rich faith. But as I’m not, you’ll have to read about Becca’s memories of the food and celebration at her family’ Passover seders. It’s a lovely post.
  • Tim Carman’s write up of food-related April’s Fool’s jokes was awesome. I would totally eat from Alinea on the Road.
  • Oh God. I love bahn mi. Love it. It makes me miss the days when I lived in Seattle and was kitty-corner to an excellent little bahn mi restaurant. Check out this round up of good bahn mi spots in the DC area on Best Bites. Unfortunately, they’re a lot further than kitty-corner to my building.
  • Want to be a food blogger? Check out theses tips from Capital Spice guest blogger Jennifer Winter on food photography – a must-have skill for any food blogger.

Happy Friday!

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An Interview With Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941

Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941.

Anthony Chavez, Executive Pastry Chef at 2941 in Falls Church, takes classic desserts and elegantly updates them with creative, seasonal touches. The fine dining restaurant serves modern takes on American French fare, and Chavez’s offerings include a Bailey’s ganache mousse, a pumpkin crémeux served with a root beer float, and a duo of egg-based desserts that pairs a crème brûlée with lemon floating islands. I would personally like to try all of them – New Years weight-loss resolutions be damned.

Originally from California, Chavez graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2001. He got his start at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, working his way up to Executive Pastry Chef in three years. Before coming to 2941, he was the Executive Pastry Chef at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower.

Chavez sat down with ModernDomestic before the holidays to talk about the dessert menu at 2941 (which looks delicious), the next big trend in pastry (he’s thinking petits fours), and where he likes to get dessert in DC.

MD: Why did you get into pastry?
AC: I went to culinary school and at the end of my internship I was given the opportunity to work in the pastry department. I stuck with it. It’s very precise, and there’s a lot of things you can specialize in. You can be a specialist in chocolate and candies, wedding cakes, plated desserts, sugar – there are lots of different aspects to pastry that are completely different from each other.

MD: So what’s your specialty?
AC: Plated desserts. They’re my favorite part about pasty and that’s why I work here. I love to make wedding cakes and chocolate candies, but I love the intensity of plated desserts. I try to encompass all aspects of pastry in a plated dessert – I can use a chocolate ganache that I’d use in a candy and use it in a plated dessert. Brioche is another good example – it’s traditionally a bread you eat for breakfast, but we use it all the time for plated desserts. You can make bread pudding with it, you can make French toast with it, etc.

MD: How do you describe your approach to pasty?
AC: I have a very classical French background – it’s how I was trained. I like to incorporate French techniques. I work with Bertrand Chemel, [2941’s Executive Chef] who’s from France, and our styles work very well together. I try to put a modern twist on the French classics.

MD: Do you ever cook at home?
AC: My wife and I met in culinary school and sometimes we’ll make pat a choux, eclairs, or brioche at home. We also sometimes like to make pie. We’ve made pecan pie, but instead we made an almond sablé dough and made a layer of sponge on the bottom. We took an American classic and made it French.

Chavez's chestnut yule log, for the holiday season. I have the recipe for this and it takes a whole two days to make.

MD: What’s your favorite childhood dessert?
AC: Chocolate s’mores. When we go out to West Virginia we do marshmallows on the campfire. I also like Snickers bars and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.

MD: So what’s on the menu now at 2941?
AC: It’s wintertime, so we’re doing fall desserts that feature apples and pears. We’re doing a caramelized apple with a black walnut filling, served with calvados sorbet. We also have a German chocolate cake – it has chocolate flourless sponge on the bottom and coconut cream. And we’re serving poached pear and buckwheat flapjacks.

MD: What’s your favorite dessert on the menu?
AC: I’m very pleased with the way the apple came out. I wanted to see what we could do with apples and this is one we’ve done before. The dessert never included the frangipane, but Chemel tried it and said that what would remind him of his childhood would be frangipane. And we work with a lot of farmers and we were able to get black walnuts. Black walnuts are a little sour and bitter, and if you pair it with the caramel apple they complement each other.

MD: Since you work with local farmers, is that how you source all your ingredients?
AC: A lot of it is from local farmers. Of course, if we’re using citrus or something that isn’t grown here we use a purveyor. We also go to the supermarket because sometimes they have better produce, and sometimes I go to the McLean farmer’s market on my way to work in the summer. We also work with a woman who has a company called Fresh Link – she travels around the Culpeper area looking for farmers with good produce.

MD: Did you follow any of the controversy surrounding Founding Farmer’s food sourcing? The Washington Post did an article recently about how the restaurant has built its brand on using produce from local farms, but actually gets most of its food from large corporations.
AC: I haven’t read it, but now I’m going to. But, you know, this was a really tough year for the food crop. Apricots never happened, local strawberries were only a two week season. Raspberries and peaches were the only things that did well. It’s hard to work with small farmers because of the consistency. The farmers we work with – we try to find people that are reliable.

MD: Any good bakeries in DC?
AC: I haven’t been to a lot. Buzz Bakery is nice, as is Artisan Confections in Arlington.

MD: What about dessert- any places you like to get dessert in DC?
AC: City Zen, Citronelle, Bourbon Steak. I really think that people are starting to figure it out, and are judging restaurants on desserts, more so than in the past. Before it was “so what can the chef do?” Now it’s “what else can the rest of the team do? Do you have a legit sommelier that knows about wine? Do you have a legit pastry chef?”

MD: Finally, I have to ask this question – do you think anything will replace cupcake trend?
AC: There’s so many cupcake shops – they’ve taken over so that people have lost the view of what a cupcake should be. I understand that some people are there to do something different, but some of us who have worked for many, many years on these techniques are getting overshadowed.

I think the trend restaurants are going to start focusing on petits fours. That’s your last chance to show off. Putting down a plate of tarts or gelees is a thing of the past. But I think people are doing some really nice stuff with petits fours and that’s where our focus is going to be.

The "Eye Scream," Chavez's Halloween-themed dessert. It's almost too horrifying to eat!

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