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Q & A with Eleven Madison Park’s Angela Pinkerton


Angela Pinkerton - Star Chefs-1.jpgUntil recently, Daniel Humm oversaw both the dinner and dessert menu at Eleven Madison Park, one of NYC’s most spectacular restaurants.   But what most people don’t know is that Angela Pinkerton was working right alongside him in the kitchen for over two years.  In September, Humm handed over the reigns to Pinkerton, who was named executive pastry chef.  The former biology major is no stranger to the culinary sciences.  She worked  as a clerk in a bakery through college and ran her own cake-decorating business before she officially decided to study pastry at L’Academie de Cuisine.

Considering how fundamental science is to dessert, it’s no wonder Pinkerton’s so accomplished in the kitchen.  She’s already integrated her style into the menu with new creations, like “Milk & Chocolate” with dulce de leche and “Caramel Apple” with toffee, walnuts, and granny smith ice cream. 


What did you want to be when you grew up?
An Archaeologist.

Were you always obsessed with dessert?   What sweets did you eat growing up? Any you still like?
I’ve always had a sweet tooth, still do. As a kid I loved jelly beans, soda pop, thin mints, girl scout cookies,
chocolate covered frozen bananas, ice cream, and my grandma’s apple pie, to name a few. Growing up, we didn’t have too many sweets in the house though- popsicles were our only mainstay.

What was your first job in food?  What did you learn?
I worked in a fast food “restaurant” inhigh school. It was awful. I learned what I didn’t want to do very quickly. Definitely a motivator to go to college. I also learned how to work well with a variety of different personalities.

You majored in biology at Kent State University  How did you go from biology to baking? Do you
see a connection between the two fields? 
In college, I worked a part time job in a bakery as a clerk. From that moment, my interest never faltered. Science
and baking go hand in hand. I am also a very creative and artistic person.  Through pastry I combined both my love of art and science. It was a perfect fit.

How do you employ biology into your baking and are you a better baker for it?
I think the attention to detail that great pastry requires is something that I fully developed while in school for
biology. Developing a recipe is just like experimenting in a lab, every detail small or large is going to have an affect on the final result. Pastry is just another kind of science. I just switched my direction of focus.

Long before you made a career out of it, you worked at a bakery, then became a cake decorator.   Did you feel like you were heading into culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine with an advantage?
Yes. I already had kitchen experience. Up until going to school, I learned everything I knew through trial and error, from a book or on the job.  On top of my bakery experience, I actually worked as a cook as well before I went to school.  I think all schools should require kitchen experience as a prerequisite.

You also ran your own company called “Let Them Eat Cake.” What was
your signature cake and what was that experience like?  Are you happy to let Danny Meyer and USHG run
the show these days?

It was a one man show: me. My signature cake? Carrot cake with coffee cream cheese icing. Being my own boss suited me
and my environment at that time. I learned a lot about how much I could push myself. The experience also led me to pursue a more elaborate pastry career. It was just a stepping stone to figuring out where to go next. As far as letting
Danny Meyer run my show?  It’s truly an amazing experience working at Eleven Madison. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the team here. I’ve never had such a privilege, to work with so many wonderful and positive professionals.

Some  don’t know that you’ve actually been working at EMP for over two years as Humm’s sous pastry chef.   How did the opportunity to take over the executive position come about?
I have been with the restaurant for two and a half years.  I have been promoted four times in my time here. Chef Humm and I have worked closely together with this goal in mind.  

What changes have you made to the menu since you accepted the role of executive pastry chef in September?…

We have a very seasonal menu here, so of course I have made the usual expected changes. Keeping up with the seasons and utilizing the different products available during each season keeps me busy. I definitely have many innovative plans in store for the future. We are always looking to build on each success. Keeping ahead of the game and carving out my own individual path is key to my own success and the restaurant’s as well.

Can we expect to see any classic cakes or fondant on the menu?
There is a reason the classics are classic. I hold my classic French pastry foundation dear to my heart. There is always a place for such items on a menu.

What is your favorite dessert on the menu?
The Milk & Chocolate – it’s fun to eat, so many different textures and flavors that meld together!

Which is your least favorite (and yes, you must pick one)?
Delicious as it may be… the Cranberry Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Cheesecake.

Do you also bake the breads and those terrific gougeres?
Although we do make four different varieties of Brioches for the savory menus, we do not make the baguette and
olive bread for service. The gougeres are definitely one of our pride and joys. Of course, we make them with love, in house …at least 1,400 individual pieces a day!

Who are your favorite pastry chefs in the city?
I have much admiration for many, but Michael Laiskonis and Dominique Ansel stand out in my mind.

Where do you like to eat on your night or nights off?
Late nights at Artichoke Pizza, dining at the bar at Union Square Cafe, anytime at Ippudo, dinner at a friend’s apartment, or anywhere I haven’t been yet. I love, love, love trying new places!

Where do you like to go for great pastries in New York City?
I always get that question. To be honest, I don’t really have a favorite yet. 

Do you have a favorite kitchen tool you can’t live without?
A hand blender.

Any new projects on the horizon?  A
cookbook, perhaps?

I’m really focused at the restaurant for now but you never know what the future may bring.

One Comment

  1. I absolutely LOVED the milk and chocolate on my last visit to EMP! I’ll be in NY and at EMP a week from now for lunch, can’t wait to try a different dessert!

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