Name: Maria Orantes
Current City: Miami
Current Job: Pastry chef
What is your background in baking/pastry and how did you get to where you are today?
Baking was always very intimidating for me. I always tried following recipes, but the outcome wasn’t ever really great. I began working in the industry right after I graduated high school and it was there that I completely fell in love with pastry. I think I just wanted to be better at something new that took so much hard work, precision and dedication.
I would intern at a French restaurant with Chef Michelle Bernstein which is where I learned the foundations for pastry from pastry chef Vanessa Paz. It was once I got to Pubbelly that I began experimenting with new techniques and flavors. Everyone was very open to a take on the classics with my childhood treat spin. I think that is what makes Pubbelly’s desserts so special to me - they are able to take you back to a memory of something you remember as a child.
What do you love about your job?
Everything! I truly love all aspects of my job.
What are your favorite dishes/products to make?
I have a weak spot for chocolate, so anything that I prepare with chocolate, especially if it is paired with salted caramel. Chocolate is my biggest comfort food.
What do you consider to be the biggest food trends impacting your business, and how are you responding?
I think now people are starting to become more open to new ideas in food. We have grown to see that a lot of food we were used to eating was not very good for us. As chefs, we have embraced this and started to use new ingredients as well as sourcing locally farmed foods. Our dessert menus at Pubbelly are all seasonal, which helps out our local farms, as well as pushes us to invent new takes on desserts with seasonal ingredients.
Don’t take food too seriously; Make things you love to eat and everyone will love them too!
Who would you would like to collaborate with in the kitchen?
Christina Tosi and Hedy Goldsmith. These ladies are absolute pastry rock stars! They are both extremely talented and passionate pastry chefs, yet they don’t take desserts so serious, which is what I love about their work.
What is the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
Banana pecan cinnamon rolls from Nopa in San Francisco.
When you are not in the bakery, where can you be found?
On my days off I love to go and try new restaurants. This is where you’re inspired to trying new techniques and flavors. I also enjoy going to the movies or staying in at home reading cookbooks and practicing new recipes.
In terms of innovation, what do you think your generation brings to the table?
I think we bring a new perspective on classic desserts.
What is something you would like to achieve that you have not done already?
My biggest goal is to be able to learn everything I can and eventually become a certified master pastry chef.