Goldsmith first worked with Schwartz at Nemo, on South Beach, where she ran smack-dab into his flavor-forward, keep-it-simple, keep-it-seasonal philosophy. The frills were gone: “Mango sorbet with a shortbread cookie, that’s what my dessert was.” And when mango season was over, so was the sorbet.
Goldsmith and Schwartz hit it off when she came to Nemo to eat. “For me it was the full package. She had a great personality … we had a really good rapport from her being a guest,” he says. “That’s what attracts everyone to Hedy — passion and excitement and a warm way that makes you want to be her friend.”
Goldsmith swoons right back: “I owe a great deal to Michael. I was frightened about going something more simple. I thought I would lose my voice. But it was liberating and refreshing.”
She developed that voice in Philadelphia. As kids, Goldsmith and Schwartz lived about five blocks from each other for a while. They never met till they were all grown up and living in Miami, but it turned out that her brother and the chef were old friends. Stephen Goldsmith had been Schwartz’s camp counselor in Philly.
“I had such a great childhood. I was raised on canned and frozen cuisine, SpaghettiOs,” Hedy Goldsmith says. “My mother was a working mom. She didn’t really desire to cook, but she had an obligation to put food on the table.
“I wish I had a great story — that I cooked with my grandmother, that she taught me how to make rugelach. No, I taught myself to make rugelach.”
Goldsmith wanted to be Annie Leibowitz: “I was going to be a fabulous photojournalist, yada, yada, yada.”
She went to art school, where tuition was through the roof. “I needed to make money. I started working at a number of restaurants,” Goldsmith says. “I knew nothing. I didn’t know there was other lettuce besides iceberg.”
But she learned, and blossomed. “I started going to farmers markets. I didn’t know watercress or romaine or fresh zucchini,” Goldsmith says. “I worked at a vegetarian restaurant and had this ability and talent to understand the way flavors worked before putting them together.”
How did desserts become her focus? There was a “yuck” factor, basically:
“I went to school all day and to work at 3. At one restaurant I was the stir-fry girl and the deep-fry cook. Every night I would take the subway home and smell like garlic and fish and meat and french fries,” she says. “I really loved what I was doing but hated working with meat and raw chicken. I didn’t want my everyday to be that.”
Her boss told her, “OK, go help the pastry chef.”
“I found a medium that was artistic, hands on,” Goldsmith says. “It was something that really spoke of what I was seeing and feeling. People could taste the art.”
In Baking Out Loud, home cooks will find some exotic flavor combos — try the licorice ice cream — but the techniques are as straightforward and unfussy as the flavors.
“People can bake if there is no mystery to it,” Goldsmith says, “A home baker can take this book and have her own out-loud moment. They can take flavors and be carefree and enjoy the exploration of it.
“It’s not complicated.”