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Q & A With Cory Colton

Pastry chef Cory Colton’s culinary career was inspired not by his
mother or farm upbringing, but rather by Marcel Desaulniers’ television
show, “Death by Chocolate.”  After formal education at the CIA, Cory
perfected pastry in kitchens varying from The Trellis in Williamsburg, Virginia to the St. Regis in Aspen.  But it was his drive to cook in NYC that brought him to Lespinasse and then the St. Regis, and now, Quality Meats.  At Quality Meats,
Cory’s signature desserts include his berry & praline crepes or his
huckleberry & cherry cheesecake.  A recent graduate of Ice Cream
University, do try his butterscotch oatmeal cookie or mint Oreo ice
creams.

Single/Married/Divorced?
Single

What did you want to
be when you grew up?

Originally, I wanted
to follow my uncle’s footsteps into the landscaping industry, but after having
to mow about 600 lawns as a teenager to make a buck I threw in the towel and
vowed that one day, my yard would be entirely Astroturf!

What was your first
job in food?

My very first job in a
kitchen was actually in a pizza joint in Maine…my first pastry job was in the
St. Regis Hotel, Aspen, CO where we opened up an Olive’s restaurant.

Apparently, you were
inspired to become a pastry chef from watching television? Do explain.

One of my favorite
programs on TV growing up was “Death by Chocolate.”  Where I grew up there weren’t any bakeries or
fine dining establishments…the only exposure I had to baking was the rustic
style of my family and neighbors. “Death by Chocolate” was my window into an
amazing and modern new world that I wanted to know and experience…and Marcel
Desaulniers’ passion was such an inspiration for me to pursue this as a career. I eventually landed an internship at his
restaurant.

You worked in the
kitchen at Lespinasse? What was your most memorable experience
there?

Yeah, Lespinasse was a
really intense kitchen. I was working with the most talented cooks in my life
up to that point and the standards were set very high. The pressure for you to
do your best was always on and that environment was very stressful at times. My
most memorable experience was the night I went in for dinner and experienced
what we were all working so hard to accomplish: to blow people away. Perfectly choreographed servers presented me with
the most amazing meal I had ever had. To gain the guests perspective impacted
my attitude and work ethic so much that I now understood what the real reward
was for working in this industry.

Which pastry chefs do
you most admire?…


There are several on
this list, one that stands out for me right now is Jennifer Bell of Café
Boulud, Palm Beach. We met back in
culinary school and watching her grow over the years and develop into the
amazing pastry chef she’s become has not only been an inspiration, but keeps me
on my toes as well!

Do you eat
dessert? If so, what’s your favorite?

I love dessert….and
I’m crazy about textures. One of my favorite desserts comes from a small Thai
restaurant up the street from me…its warm, sweet sticky rice topped with
coconut ice cream, red beans, palm seeds, with some lychee gelee.  It’s so simple…but so good that I even order
it for delivery all the time!

You’re known for your
classic desserts like tarts and pies. What’s your take on subversive pastries and radical savory-sweet unions?

I think it’s great to push
the envelope and blur the lines of what is typically considered a sweet or
savory ingredient. It’s also nice to see
that customers are expanding their palates and trusting in their chefs to take
them on bold new culinary adventures.

You’re especially
gifted at conceiving ice creams. How did
you hone this craft and where do you get the inspiration for such inventive flavors?

I
trained with Malcolm
Stogo, the owner of Ice Cream University. He travels the world working
with very
talented chefs doing ice cream and gelato seminars while consulting
with popular ice cream companies. As far as my inspiration goes, I have
to say,
people are pretty eager to tell me what flavors they’ve dreamed up and
would
like me to execute. Sometimes I just smile
and nod…but quite a few times, we’ve concocted some pretty terrific
flavors
that way. Ice cream making can invoke a
child-like state of heightened creativity and imagination.  The
possibilities are always endless and
luckily, the failed experiments never go to waste!

What is your favorite
dish on the spring menu?

Geez…this is like
asking which one of your children is your favorite! We recently ran a rhubarb
sorbet that turned out great.

What is your least
favorite (and yes, you must pick one)?

This one’s easier…I
have bread pudding on the menu right now and I don’t know what I was thinking
when I put it on. It’s like a trap…people love it and never want you to take it
off the menu. I personally am not into
bread puddings (back to the whole “I like textures thing”) ..and am working on
its replacement this week.

Which culinary trends
do you embrace?

I’m really pleased
with the success of all the dessert-based restaurants, bars and trucks. I especially
think the dessert truck idea is brilliant. Its great having so many options for dessert here in the city now.

Are there any trends
you wish would just die already?

Absolutely! The glamorization
of this industry by television reality shows and culinary school
propaganda. As chefs, we are facing an
epidemic of not finding good cooks that are dedicated, eager to learn, and
accept the harsh reality of working in a kitchen.

What’s your junk food
of choice?

Honestly…it’s ice cream. My refrigerator is empty except for about 5
cans of beer. My freezer is empty except
for about 5 pints of ice cream!

What’s next on the
horizon for you?

Would love to expand
the Quality Meats brand of ice cream to retail; we are working on a trial right
now.

Address: 57 W. 58th St., btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.
Phone: (212)
371-7777

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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