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Q & A with Public's Ellen Mirsky

Talk about a career change, Ellen Mirsky quit fashion for food.  She went from designing eye candy to designing dessert overnight.  Mirsky graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education with a degree in pastry and soon found herself at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole.   She’s worked with everyone from Todd English and Rick Moonen to Pichet Ong.

Nowadays, you can sample her creations at Public, where she works alongside Brad Farmerie.  Her inspired creations reflect comfort sweets from all over the world.  On the menu for autumn — a concord grape panna cotta  with peanut butter ice cream and frosted concord grapes. From New Zealand comes the Hokey Pokey ice cream, topped with passionfruit sauce and a gingersnap.  And of course, lots of chocolates.  Mirsky even has her own chocolate company with truffles made from pumpkin, pomegranate, or port.


What did you want to be when you grew up?
A clothing designer.

What was your first job in food?
A stage in a restaurant near where my parents lived in Westfield, N.J.  However, my first proper job was as a pastry chef at Aureole.

Once upon a time, you were a fashion designer. How does your fashion sense make its way into your dessert creations?
I think it helps in my plating. I’m a very visual person. I look for colors, shapes, and proportion.

What was the impetus behind your drastic career change?
I had been designing for many years and became bored with it. I always loved to bake and create desserts, so I decided to give my true passion a chance.

What were some of the greatest lessons you learned from working with chefs like Charlie Palmer, Todd English and Pichet Ong?
To challenge myself, and go beyond the normal flavors. I learned how to experiment with flavors and textures, and to actually think outside the box. 

Which do you prefer to work with? Chocolate or pastry?
I really love working with chocolate because there are so many things you can do, beyond all the flavors that you can use. 

What inspired the idea to launch your own line of chocolates?
Well, customers were always asking me where they could buy my chocolates!

Which restaurant (other than Public of course,) is your favorite for desserts?
I like Spigolo on the Upper West Side.  

The desserts at Public reflect cuisines from all around the world. Which countries most inspire your style?
France, New Zealand, and Asia.

What is your favorite dessert on Public’s menu?
The red velvet cake with white chocolate wattleseed ice cream, chocolate ganache and chocolate pearls.

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

The cheese plates.

What culinary trends do you embrace?

What culinary trends do you wish would just die already?
I’d have to say molecular gastronomy.

What’s next on the horizon? Spill the beans…
What I’d like to do in the future is open up a boutique chocolate shop with some exotic creations and some popular flavors with a creative slant to them.

Address: 210 Elizabeth St. (btwn. Prince and Spring Sts.)
Phone: (212) 343-7011

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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