Score one for Atlanta pastry. Eric Wolitzky, widely known for his appearance on the first season of “Top Chef Just Desserts,” recently joined the team at Cakes & Ale as its new pastry chef.
Wolitzky, a New York native, grew up in a family of bakers. His grandfather and other extended family members were at the tail end of their baking careers as he was growing up. Wolitzky learned techniques from them and worked in bakeries off and on as a teen. Then, he abandoned baking for higher education, earning his Masters in cultural studies from NYU.
Of his pastry background, Wolitzky says he “ignored it for a while.” Eventually, he realized his calling and attended the French Culinary Institute. He then worked at Baked in Brooklyn, where he focused on what he calls “comfort desserts” and presented a modern take on classic American desserts.
On “Top Chef Just Desserts,” Wolitzky earned repeated praise from judges Gail Simmons and Johnny Iuzzini for his bold and satisfying flavors. He calls the cooking show experience a “life changer,” saying, “I realized what I could do. I realized that I’m a baker at heart and a pastry chef, as well.”
Wolitzky calls his new post at Cakes & Ale “the best of both worlds” because it allows him the opportunity to create plated desserts for the restaurant and an array of baked items for the bakery. He says, “everything got bigger and bolder. It’s all about flavor.”
Under Wolitzky’s direction, you’ll find items like his signature chocolate chip cookies with a hint of citrus, mandarin orange creamsicle cake and a pineapple upside down cake served with an ice cream made of cherries, brandy, orange and cinnamon.
Wolitzky’s recipes have been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, O Magazine and Daily Candy. He has shared his creations at the New York Chocolate Show, Martha Stewart’s Milk and Cookies, Food Network Food and Wine’s Sweet, Village Voice’s Choice Sweets, Disney Food and Wine Festival, the James Beard House, Bon Appetit Supper Club, American Cancer Society Eat Drink and Be Hopeful and the Food Network NYC Burger Bash.
Atlanta’s pastry scene just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog