Things have gone from salty to sour to sweet for the pastry chef who split from The Salty Donut.
Max Santiago, the chef who helped found the artisanal Wynwood doughnut shop before a sudden breakup with the partners in March, will be creating the pastries, sweets — and, yes, doughnuts — as corporate pastry chef for all 19 locations of Sugar Factory American Brasserie, which includes restaurants on Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive.
He’s also designing the sweets menu for the upcoming Sugar Factory Patisserie & Gummy World on Española Way in South Beach.
Sugar Factory is a favorite among visiting celebrities, from the Kardashians to Flo Rida to Brooke Shields, for its decadent sweets and milkshakes. Still, Santiago says he was brought on to raise the sweets game yet again.
“I’m going to take the desserts to the level they need to be,” he said. “I’m already flipping the place upside down, on its head.”
He’s also using his doughnut skills to help his new bosses start the first of several new doughnut shops across the country. Sugar Factory Artisanal Doughnut and Coffee Bar will open two locations in Manhattan, at 1991 Broadway in the Upper West Side and at the Gansevoort Market, and another soon in Los Angeles.
Santiago had worked as pastry chef over the last 20 years for several notable James Beard award-winning chefs, including Michelle Bernstein, Norman Van Aken and Allen Susser before teaming up on The Salty Donut.
The doughnut shop started as a pop up out of a trailer before opening a permanent location in the Wynwood Arcade last fall, famed for its 24-hour-raised brioche doughnuts. Santiago competed in and won the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown in September of last year, and The Salty Donut recreated the winning confection for fans, who happily wait in long lines.
Now, he says he is using his experience to take a leap forward and help grow Sugar Factory.
“I didn’t create those doughnuts out of thin air,” Santiago said. “It was knowing my trade for 20 years.”