Every late spring, I look forward to the annual Dessert Professional party in Manhattan, in which 10 of the upcoming pastry chefs are honored. This year was no exception for delicious creations and combinations of ingredients to woo our palates and please our eyes. Now that we live permanently in our woodlands home in western New Jersey, coming to events like this is especially delightful to rendezvous with colleagues.The party started with a social hour while the honored chefs and their teams assembled hundreds of their creations in several kitchens on two different floors. The first person we met was the charming Amy Guittard from Guittard chocolates, one of the sponsors of the event. I was overjoyed to see my long time friends Jean François Bonnet of Tumbador chocolate and his lovely wife Dina Melandez, who is also a pastry chef. Jean François has been honored as one of the top 10 several years ago. They were accompanied by another of my favorite chefs, Tyler Atwell who is now pastry chef at Boulud Sud. And what a great surprise to see Cara Tannenbaum, who is a long-time instructor at ICE (Institute for Culinary Education) where the event was being held, and who made all the food for my cousin's wedding some years ago. She is soon to publish her first cookbook! I was also delighted to see the renowned pastry chef François Payard who introduced me to Pierre-Antoine Raberin of the famed Ladurée from Paris who just opened a boutique in SoHo, New York City. (I'm not usually a lover of macaron but I adore theirs--especially the caramel ones!) I had a great talk with Rick Smilow, owner of ICE, who assured me that next year the very popular and crowded event would be held in a much larger new venue being built in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. The Top 10 chefs were announced in a ceremony sponsored by Kitchen Aid, after which Woody and I were off to the kitchens to taste a bit of virtually every creation including some unique beverages. Amidst the myriad desserts we also discovered an incredible cultured butter from Beurremont with 83% butter fat. At the present time it is only available for on a commercial basis, so we were pleased when invited to take home two pounds of it! We tasted and enjoyed innumerable desserts of varying complexities. Our top favorite dessert of the event was the one from, not surprisingly, Daniel Boulud's executive pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira. This is the first time that Daniel's pastry chef is a woman and, I must say, she did us proud!
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