Confection Confessions: 6 Miami Women Who are Crushing the Pastry Mold

Last spring, this popular Primetime Emmy Award-winning Netflix series returned featuring some serious eye-candy for their new season. Hello, Chef’s Table: Pastry. The documentary-style show typically pours deep into the lives, minds, and kitchens of several chefs each season. If you haven’t yet caught up on the episodes, get to it!

The South Florida dining scene continues to steadily pick up steam and bask in some well-deserved nationwide attention. Surprisingly, even with all of our city’s accolades, we don’t often hear much about the highly-skilled pastry chefs who are behind the scenes and such an integral part of that recognition. It’s time to change that. I’ve decided to highlight some of our very own trailblazing pastry stars. I took some time to chat with these incredible women about what drives and inspires them. I, for one, am confident their enthusiasm, zest, and quest for success will continue to take them far.

TWP Dallas Wynne FDallas Wynne Stubborn Seed

Previous Notable Positions  Executive Pastry Chef at Ariete and Pastry Sous Chef at Thierry’s Catering

What do you wish diners knew about the profession? I think the biggest thing I grit my teeth over is modifying dishes. As a chef, we put so much time, effort, and testing into a dish that for a customer to modify it to what they think will be best can be slightly frustrating. Obviously, we know there are personal preferences, but you might be surprised by how much you like a different combination or set of ingredients. 

What is your favorite part of being a pastry chef? Playing with food! Growing up you are always told not to play with your food, but at the end of the day, that’s how I look at my job. I get to manipulate ingredients, play around, test new ideas, fail, succeed, create and make mistakes and I couldn’t ask for more.

Who do you look up to and why? Dominique Crenn for sure! She has two Michelin stars and is always an advocate for the well being and standards of chefs and a great role model. 

Has there ever been a person or event that changed your life? I am lucky enough to have gained a lot of my knowledge from two amazing pastry chefs, Devin Braddock and Hedy Goldsmith. Not only did I learn so much from them, but it really shaped the path of my career, where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to handle myself as a Pastry Chef. 

TWP Jill Montinola E

Jill Montinola Seaspice Miami

Previous Notable Positions Executive Pastry Chef at Shikany, Regional Pastry Chef at Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill, Pastry Chef at SushiSamba Las Vegas, Okada and Winn Lei Las Vegas.

What inspires and motivates you on a daily basis? My passion, working on new ingredients, techniques, and plates. My staff and co-chefs. 

Who do you look up to and why? My mom. She’s a devoted mother and grandmother and has a heart that goes beyond. It never ceases to amaze me how much she loves her children and grandchildren. Professional wise: the strong women who run businesses like our owner Maryam Miranda. She’s very detailed oriented and knows her business inside out while being a wife and loving mother. She wears many hats and does it elegantly. 

What is on its way to becoming a trend in 2018? Vegan-friendly desserts. More options.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, running my own Filipino restaurant empire in Miami. 

TWP Carissa Offhaus E

Carissa Offhaus Seminole Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Previous Notable Positions My own business, “For the Love of Sweets” in Central Florida. I did that for about 6 years doing cookies, cupcakes, cakes and more. That’s where it all began! Then I had the opportunity to work at Artisan Beach House as the lead Pastry for my partner and Chef Paula DaSilva. 

Do you have a favorite motto? I do! It’s a very simple one. “Never give up.” It’s my motto because I am self -taught. I never had the chance to go to school, so I read a lot of books. I have tried many things and failed a lot. But I never gave up. When I moved to South Florida, I was intimidated, but I had a fire and hunger to continue on this path regardless of what I knew. So far it has paid off, and I look forward to learning and doing so much more.

What is the one tool you cannot live without and why? My whisk! I love whisks so much I have one tattooed on my left forearm! From foaming up liquids to whipping cream, to breaking up flour. A whisk is my go-to tool for just about anything. 

What dessert trend do you think needs to go away? I think the “charcoal black” trend needs to go. I like natural, bold colors. I see it as more inviting and lively.

How do you feel about the current Miami dining scene overall? Cultural and thriving! Coming from central Florida and dining/cooking in Miami the first thing that caught my eye was all the culture. I was in awe! There is something for everyone, it’s expanding, and that makes me excited to be a part of it.

TWP Soraya Kilgore E

Soraya Caraccioli Kilgore MadLab Creamery

Previous Notable Positions Pastry Chef/Owner Alter Restaurant

What do you wish diners knew about the profession? That it is not easy!  We work day and night, for little retribution and it would be nice if they were nice!

Do you have a favorite motto? “You have to be odd to be number one” Dr. Seuss
“If you act like you know exactly what to do, then you can do anything” Frida Kahlo

Given the current movement towards women empowerment, do you feel the culinary environment as a whole has been altered? Of course, I think all industries have been changed. The difference between how women were treated before the #metoo movement and how they are being treated now is palpable. The veil dropped and I think we are finally equal to men because they can’t dismiss us anymore. The road is still long but it will not be as hard for us as it was for all the women who paved it for us. I do feel that women should understand that being equal to men doesn’t mean having to be the same to men, we each have a set of qualities that complement each other, professionally or otherwise and that we need to coexist and live together, that is it not a race of sexes. We have been heard, now let’s do what women do best, breach the gap.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, with children and very happy with Brad in my personal life and in my profession, I would hope that I am in a place where I’ve made a difference for myself and other small business women owners!

TWP Devin Braddock E

Devin Braddock Blue Collar and Mignonette

Previous Notable Positions Pastry Assistant to Hedy Goldsmith at Michael’s Genuine and Pastry Chef de Partie at Alter

Who do you look up to and why? I look up to my grandmother, Terry Stabler. A retired, yet incredibly talented pastry chef whom without, I would never have enveloped in such a career. She started out barely speaking English and raising four children as a single parent. With all the challenges she faced, she overcame all obstacles. She worked hard. After years of blood, sweat, tears and hard work, she persevered. In the mid-2000s, she was able to build her own successful company. She is the epitome of the American dream. She showed me that nothing can hold you back when you have a goal, you can achieve it!

Has there ever been a person or event that changed your life? Hedy Goldsmith.
Upon meeting her, I was so inexperienced with BIG ideas. She showed me that sometimes, simplicity is bliss. She really taught me to focus on technicality, and to organize my thoughts in a way that works using creativity. She always says, “If you’re going to make vanilla ice cream, make it the BEST vanilla ice cream.” Technicality always comes first.”

What dessert trend do you think needs to go away? Beautiful, “Instagram-worthy” desserts that lack love in every bite. It is rare that you’ll find me eating a dessert, but when I do, I’m often left underwhelmed by glitters and foams.I truly believe great flavors and beauty can coincide in a way that’s approachable.

What do you wish diners knew about the profession? WE DON’T JUST BAKE COOKIES AND CAKES.  There’s a unique science to baking and its not just coming in, and making food that makes people smile. There’s a multitude of things that go into our industry. Cleaning is a main part of that. Being organized. Taking orders. Food cost. These are all things we take into deep consideration.

TWP Mame Sow E

Mame Sow Three

Previous Notable Positions Pastry chef at Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, California and Pastry Chef for Pichet Ong

Who do you look up to and why? My mentor and hero in this industry is Pichet Ong. He’s amazing at what he does and is very humble.

What is your favorite part of being a pastry chef? For me, it’s the whole experience of creating new desserts and using new and more modern techniques  I love working with chocolate and finding new ways of pairing with other sweet and savory ingredients.

Given the current movement towards women empowerment, do you feel the culinary environment as a whole has been altered? I’m not too sure if it’s been altered I think it’s still more of a personal choice for people not to behave certain ways and setting hard rules and zero tolerance policy that holds people accountable for their actions.

What dessert trend do you think needs to go away? Anything that has to do with donuts.

TWP at MDD Confection Confessions

Original Post: 3.08.2018
Edited: 8.29.2018