Hedy Goldsmith, the mastermind pastry chef who made her mark by putting a refined touch on nostalgia-inducing desserts, left South Florida last month — and her job as executive pastry chef for Michael Schwartz’s Genuine Hospitality Group — for Los Angeles.
A Philadelphia native, Goldsmith landed here in 1990 after attending art school and baking at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. She worked at landmark South Florida restaurants like Mark’s Place and Nemo before joining Schwartz’s group, overseeing sweets at all of its locations, including Michael’s Genuine, The Cypress Room and Harry’s Pizzeria in the Miami Design District.
WLRN-Miami Herald News spoke with Goldsmith at The Cypress Room on one of her last days on the job, prepping desserts at lunch. This is an edited transcript:
“I moved down here in the winter of 1990. I remember the day I got off the plane: I was wearing a cashmere sweater and a wool winter coat, and as soon as that door opened this gush of hot, humid air hit me.
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“I really did not want to move down here. I moved down here with with someone I was seeing. So it was really a challenge for me to assimilate.
“There were not many restaurants down here yet. There were many Cuban restaurants, many ethnic restaurants, which were all fantastic little holes in the wall, which I absolutely love. But there was not a real food scene down here. There was no reason for foodies to travel here as they would to New York or L.A. or San Francisco.
“And I really felt like I was on the beginnings of this new thing that was happening. The chefs were getting younger, and the food was getting hipper, and I lived on South Beach way before South Beach was South Beach. I think what we refer to it as South of Fifth, which was a lot of crack vials in the early ’90s, and I was working as a pastry chef for Mark Militello at Mark’s Place.
“He was part of the Mango Gang with Norman Van Aken and all those guys, and they were doing something very special. They were taking a cuisine that we used to call Continental cuisine, and they really threw it on on its ear.
“I was able to just do whatever I wanted to. There was a lot of money in Miami, a lot of drug money, so a lot of people were going out to dinner and really spending a lot, a lot of money.”
Gonna miss ya
“I see some great things happening. I really do. I see us supporting more and more farmers. I see young entrepreneurs starting a brick-and-mortar at a very young age and really working hard and seeing the fruits of their labor come through.
“I have great expectations for what’s going to happen in Miami in the food scene and in the culture. I’m going to miss the day-to-day, but I’m going to be very connected.
“Ending my relationship with Michael, I was so scared to talk to him. But knowing Michael, I knew he would want the best for me. We argue like brother and sister, like husband and wife. We agree to disagree, and we agree to agree. We’ve had a wonderful run together. He said, ‘Babe, gonna miss ya.’”
“I’m looking forward to going to the farmers market in Santa Monica. The last time I was there I think there were about six or seven or 10 varieties of peaches that I had never seen before, because of course they keep all the good produce to themselves. I can’t wait to start baking peach pies and apple pies and just all kinds of delicious things.
“In South Florida, our growing season typically is the winter, because our summer season is just too hot to grow. So it forced me to learn how to use tropical fruit: mamey, passion fruit, dragon fruit and all these beautiful fruits that I had never seen before, and that I’m really going to miss.
“This year the strawberry crop is perhaps the best I’ve ever had in all these years, and it’s kind of my sweet farewell to Miami.
“In my book I have a Key lime cheesecake flan, which to me kind of like marries all of those flavors of Joe’s Key Lime Pie with a flan. That really is the culmination of years of working with tropical fruits. It kind of highlights everything.”
Every single day
“I’m so appreciative of Miami. I’m just this little [squirt] that came down here and made some good food and did some like fun things. And I’ve been so embraced, and it is so heartwarming. It just means a lot to me.
“The pastry department ... we’re always under a microscope because, ‘Oh, that’s the pastry department, they don’t bring in much revenue, but OK we need to have them.’ And we really supplement and augment what the chefs do.
“To me this is really a blue-collar job. I stand on my feet for 16 hours. It’s not rocket science, you know. I’m not splitting the atom. I’m making desserts that taste good, and we’re hard workers and that’s what it’s all about.
“I’m always going to bake, every single day. It’s my passion. It’s what I do to unwind. It’s what I love.
“My therapist would probably say, ‘It’s because of your Jewish background and you want to make everybody happy and please everyone.’
“Well, part of that may be true, but what we’re doing is something really important.”
Contact WLRN Editorial Director Alicia Zuckerman at azuckerman@MiamiHerald.com. To hear the full interview with Hedy Goldsmith, go to wlrn.org.
Replacing Hedy Goldsmith as executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink is Amy Kalinowski, who worked under Goldsmith as pastry assistant during the restaurant’s nascent days in 2008.
“We are incredibly excited to have Amy back,” Michael Schwartz said. “She lights up the kitchen with her smile and brings her infectious enthusiasm, passion and creativity to our pastry program. I know she will shine in this lead role.”
Lesley Abravanel, Miami.com
Sweet Corn Pot de Crème
2 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup crème fraiche
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blackberries, blueberries or raspberries
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut corn kernels off the cobs and break or cut cobs into 2- to 3-inch sections. Place kernels, cobs, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean, milk and cream in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Add salt, remove from heat, cover and let corn steep 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
When cream mixture has steeped, remove and discard cobs and vanilla bean. Puree mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender until as smooth as possible. Pour puree through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, pressing firmly with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Whisking constantly, slowly pour strained cream mixture into yolk mixture until incorporated.
Divide among 8 (4-ounce) ramekins or pot de crème dishes. Place them in a rimmed baking pan. Add hot water to the outer pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover baking pan with foil and place in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake another 20 minutes, then check to see if the custards are set. If not, cover and cook a few minutes more. Carefully remove pan from oven, uncover and allow custards to cool in water bath. When room temperature, remove ramekins. Cover and chill, overnight if possible.
To make topping, beat crème fraiche, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Serve pots du crème well chilled topped with whipped cream mixture and berries. Makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from Hedy Goldsmith, from Miami Herald archives.
Per serving: 422 calories (69 percent from fat), 33.5 g fat (19.8 g saturated, 10.2 g monounsaturated), 267 mg cholesterol, 5.5 g protein, 27.6 g carbohydrates, 1.3 g fiber, 65 mg sodium.
Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bars
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup salted peanuts (preferably Virginia)
Line the bottom and sides of an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or foil, and grease it lightly (preferably with Pam). Melt the milk chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl set over simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat. Pour half of the milk chocolate into the prepared loaf pan and spread it evenly. Freeze for 15 minutes, until cold.
Make the next layer. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.
Increase the heat to medium high and boil, without stirring, for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar begins to turn golden brown on the edges. While gently and continually swirling the pan over the heat to even out the color, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar turns a deep amber.
Slide the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream. Careful! It will splatter up, and the steam is hot. Stir until well blended. Add the white chocolate and salt and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the peanuts and stir until blended. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly
Pour the peanut mixture into the loaf pan over the milk chocolate and spread it evenly. Freeze for about 45 minutes or until cold and firm.
Once the layer is cold, reheat the remaining milk chocolate, pour it over the caramel and spread it evenly. Refrigerate or freeze for 20-30 minutes, until very cold.
Using the parchment paper or foil pan liner, transfer the candy onto a work surface. Peel away the paper or foil and place the candy on a cutting board. Using a large knife, trim off the edges and cut lengthwise into two 1 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into nine pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Makes 18 pieces.
Source: Adapted from “Baking Out Loud,” by Hedy Goldsmith (Potter, $27.50).
Per serving: 215 calories (52 percent from fat), 13 g fat (5.9 g saturated), 3.4 g monounsaturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 1.1 g fiber, 151 mg sodium.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped or grated apple
1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
Canola or peanut oil for deep-frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Place the milk, egg and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to incorporate. Slowly whisk the mixture into the dry ingredients, creating a thick, almost heavy-looking dough. Fold in the apple and, if using, the candied and ground gingers. In a Dutch oven or similar deep, heavy pan, heat at least 3 inches of oil to 365 degrees. Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
Working in batches, drop tablespoonfuls of dough into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. Fry 2 minutes, turn and fry 1 minute more, until golden. (Check the center of the first fritter to make sure it is fully cooked.) Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Makes 20 to 25 beignets.
Source: Hedy Goldsmith.
Per beignet (based on 20; does not include oil absorbed in frying): 42 calories (10 percent from fat), 0.4 g fat (0.1 g saturated, 0.1 g monounsaturated), 11 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g protein, 8.3 g carbohydrates, 0.2 g fiber, 158.1 mg sodium.