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INTERVIEW: Pastry Chef Jessica Craig On The East End's Abundant Local Ingredients, Her New Role At Almond Restaurant & Bar And More

Gabrielle Topping

Pastry Chef Jessica Craig. (Courtesy Photo)

Almond Restaurant & Bar — a French bistro in the Hamptons known for using locally farmed products and produce, owned by Chef Jason Weiner and Eric Lemonides — has welcomed Pastry Chef Jessica Craig to the Bridgehampton eatery's team. Her culinary delights will also be available at L&W Market.

Craig graduated from NYIT with a Culinary Arts Degree and a BPS in Hospitality Management. She worked with Belgian Master Chef Steven de Bruyn where she honed her skills and gained hands-on experience at various restaurants before working at Nick and Toni's in East Hampton. Craig began as a Pastry Sous Chef in 2009 and ran the dessert program for the Honest Man Restaurant Group for four years before becoming the Executive Pastry Chef at L'Artusi Restaurant in New York City, where she oversaw the pastry program for Epicurean Group. She has been featured at the James Beard Foundation's former Hamptons event, Chefs & Champagne, was a guest on Communal Table, Food & Wine senior editor Kat Kinsman's podcast, and Rozanne Gold's One-Woman Kitchen podcast. She was also a contestant on Viceland's Bong Appetite in spring of 2019 and a guest on the dessert episode of Food Network's Chopped in spring of 2020.

I spoke with Pastry Chef Jessica Craig about her new role at Almond and the delicious pastries she is adding to the menu.

What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

JC: I pursued a career in pastry straight out of high school. I always had a love for sweets and pastry from a young age. I have a sister in particular that encouraged me to go to culinary school. I'm glad she did, as I was quite uncertain when I was trying to figure out a career path. I fell in love from my first day in culinary school and have never looked back.

What are you most excited about regarding being a pastry chef at Almond?

JC: I'm honestly most excited about having beautiful local ingredients to work with and incorporate into desserts and pastries. I love that it is such an important part of being a chef on the East End. It's ingrained into the culture here.

What is your favorite pastry to make and what is your favorite pastry to eat?

JC: I'm not sure if I have a favorite pastry to make. I enjoy making almost anything concerning dessert. I really enjoy making jams a lot. Ice creams are always fun too. Creating a beautiful bread of any kind is always satisfying too. My favorite pastry to eat is a well made rainbow cookie. The layers need to be made with almond paste, be moist, and layered with raspberry jam with a good chocolate glaze.

Your signature items are listed as lemon blueberry muffins, salted pretzel blondie, and individual blueberry galettes. Will you be adding any new pastries to the Almond Restaurant menu?

JC: Oh definitely. The pot de creme and date cake are both staples that will never change. I have been encouraged to change anything else otherwise - as often as I see fit. So far, I have added a cookie plate consisting of lemon drop cookies, lemon verbena scented blueberry filled cookies, and a s'more cookie. I have also added a ricotta cheesecake made with ricotta that was made with milk from Mecox Dairy. It's served with local melon granita, mint, and sesame tuile. Lastly, I added a sundae made with brown butter pound cake, almond brittle ice cream and butterscotch sauce. All those items are subject to change soon though. I can't give details just yet, but it's exciting to have the freedom to be creative as much as I want.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

JC: I am very happy and excited to be a part of the Almond Restaurant team. I can't wait for their NYC location to be opened, safely and securely of course, so that I can make an impact on the dessert menu there too. I am finding my stride in this new pastry chef position that they have created for me. I hope the guests enjoy my creations.

Almond Restaurant & Bar is located at 1 Ocean Road in Bridgehampton and L&W Market is located at 2493 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit www.almondrestaurant.com.




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