The fresh batch: Vincent Griffith
BakeMag.com, May 18, 2015
Vincent Griffith is the executive pastry chef at The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland.
Name: Vincent Griffith
Current City: Cleveland, Ohio
Current Job: Executive Pastry Chef, The Greenhouse Tavern
What is your background in baking/pastry and how did you get to where you are today?
My family was always cooking. My mother would prepare home cooked family meals every night, and both of my grandmothers were fantastic cooks and bakers. This love of food was always in my heart.
I enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America, immersing myself in the program as well as working as many hours as I could in The Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe for Chef Francisco Migoya. I graduated from The CIA with an Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. I was enamored with Chicago’s exploding and eclectic food scene, and was lucky enough to land a job at Charlie Trotter’s legendary namesake restaurant. I was exposed to so many life-forming lessons while working for Chef Trotter. He instilled in me a standard and a mindset to always raise the bar.
I decided to leave Charlie Trotter’s after a spot opened up on the Moto Restaurant team. I had always been intrigued by Chef Homaro Cantu’s “mad scientist” cooking. With laser beams and liquid nitrogen everywhere, it was an exciting change of pace and technique from the formal Charlie Trotter’s kitchen. I was adopted into the Moto family where I spent almost 4 years developing and cooking for a Chef who showed me that serving food was just the start. Chef Cantu was out to change the world with his inventions, fight world famine, and squash refined sugar, while helping cancer and diabetic patients around the world. I indeed had been chasing my dreams in Chicago as a blossoming young cook, but Cleveland was calling me back home.
What do you love about your job?
I enjoy the excitement and rush of creating something new. I still get butterflies in my stomach right before I present a brand new dish to our staff or guests.
Ricotta fritters prepared by Griffith.
What are your favorite dishes/products to make?
I love the artistry and intricacy of plated desserts, you can really express who you are and really put your emotions on the plate.
What do you consider to be the biggest food trends impacting your business, and how are you responding?
The environment around us is so rich with beautiful tasting herbs and vegetables that it is no longer all that necessary to ship-in product from halfway around the world. I don't want to call foraging a trend, but more of what we need to be doing as responsible chefs. We try to forage as much product as we possibly can; whether we preserve, ferment, or koji culture. We really try to play around with the environment as much as we can.
What is the best advice you have received from other bakers / chefs?
Shout out an idea whenever you have one, no matter how silly you might think it is. You never know where it will lead, or land.
This dish, prepared by Griffith, consists of ice wine, forms of potato, onion caramel and hazelnuts.
Who would you would like to collaborate with in the kitchen?
Chef Malcolm Livingston II. His dessert menu at Wd 50 is still the best I have ever had in my life.
What is the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
I’ve been dreaming about the chicken sandwich at Los Angeles’ Son of a Gun restaurant. It’s absolute perfection.
When you are not in the bakery, where can you be found?
I can be found at home with my wife Anistar and our dogs Bert and Ernie.
In terms of innovation, what do you think your generation brings to the table?
We have so much information and different products to utilize in this day and age. I think the new generation can push food not only to a more interesting place, but also in a healthier, more nutritionally satisfying direction.
What is something you would like to achieve that you have not done already?
I am going to fight to win a James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award at all costs!