Dessert is my thing. In fact, I’ve long chosen dinner companions by who will get dessert with me.
As I eat my way through Atlanta’s pastry offerings, I yearn for pastry chefs that have both a creative spark and an innate understanding of what the dessert experience should be from a diner’s perspective. Often, it seems the two may be mutually exclusive.
From an intellectual standpoint, I can appreciate the playfulness of combining the dips, dashes and dollops of deconstructed pastries. Yet, analyzing, poking and prodding ingredients while attempting to determine the intended consumption order negates the visceral experience of the dessert course.
If I’m committing myself to additional gym hours, I want a dessert that invokes the closed-eye swoon. You know it — the one that rarely comes in the form of perky piles of dehydrated honey, soft spirals of peanut butter powder and dusty dunes of shaved cacao nibs.
When I reviewed Roswell’s Osteria Mattone recently, I discovered a pastry newcomer that gets it: Micki Kimberly. She understands that you can have multiple components, but that they must work in harmony to bring together assorted (but complementary) textures, flavors and colors.
This is a pastry chef you should know. She may not be on your radar since this is her first post in pastry. In her last position she served as sous chef at Table & Main, Osteria Mattone’s across-the-street sister. During that time, Kimberly baked cakes for friends and restaurant guests on the side. As her personal business grew, her passion for pastry became apparent to her employers, leading them to offer her the job at Osteria Mattone. Kimberly says it was “one of the best things that has happened to [her] professionally.”
Kimberly consulted with Jen Shelbo, an alumni of New York City’s Maialino and Gramercy Tavern to develop Osteria Mattone’s dessert menu. She also credits Pricci’s pastry chef Jennifer Etchison with being “a huge inspiration.” (Kimberly worked at Pricci on the savory side before moving to Table & Main.)
Her current dolci menu includes items like Baba Rhum, rum-soaked brioche in a pool of creme anglaise with marsala raisins, and airy ricotta fritters with lemon curd, whipped honey and crushed amaretti cookies. And I still have more to try.
Looks like a little more gym time may be in my future. And it’ll be worth it.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog