Executive Pastry Chef, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
“I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens that have been very gender neutral, where we have equality. It’s been pretty amazing because I know that’s not the norm.”
BC: How did you decide this is what you wanted to do as a career?
KG: One of my first kitchen jobs was working for Chef Mike Ward and he was very influential in how I came to think about food and develop in my career. It took me about six years to find my way back, I worked in Hawaii. I was able to work out in Boston at my favorite bakery, Flour Bakery. That was amazing because I’d never worked in an actual, real bakery setting before. I’ve been able to do all sorts of pastry and expand my knowledge.
BC: What are your favorite favorite aspects of your work? Do you have any pastries that are your favorite to create?
KG: It’s actually hard to pick a favorite. I like making everything because everything is so different. It’s nuanced differences, it’s still baking and everything is still butter, sugar, water, flour, eggs. It’s just how you apply them, you can come up with all these different techniques and products. My comfort food is definitely cookies, though. I go back to that a lot.
BC: There is surely a passion and an art that you hone in your field as a professional, but how much of it would you say is science vs. an art or passion for what you do?
KG: The basis is science. A lot of the science for baking happens before the product is made, like in the mixing before it goes into the oven. Once it goes into the oven, there’s not too much you can do to fix it. With cooking you can still play with the science as you’re going. I have my favorite repertoire of recipes that are tried and true, but there’s so much you can do to build on top of those.
BC: How do you define your role within the greater umbrella of Wente?
KG: I’m really excited that I get to leave the last impression. Dessert is that last sweet, but also balanced bite that they remember. It should always be memorable to think back on. That’s really exciting for me.
BC: What do women bring to the hospitality and cooking space?
KG: I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens that have been very gender neutral, where we have equality. It’s been pretty amazing because I know that’s not the norm. It is a growing trend, which I love seeing. I wouldn’t say in all the kitchens, but I would say that in some departments that have been more heavily women, the energy has been very cooperative, team oriented, and very focused on the guests. Which is not to say that male-led kitchens are not, but overall that’s something I always look for in a kitchen. We definitely have that here with Chef Mike as well.
BC: How would you define the Bay Area’s food scene and how has it kept that sense of longevity?
KG: I would describe it as exciting. It’s ever-evolving. It does change, but the constants are there. The amazing agriculture here in California serves as a never-ending abundance of products to play with.
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, arts & culture magazines, and more. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.