Executive Pastry Chef for Barton G Restaurants
TrunkSpace: When and why did you start cooking or baking and who has been the biggest influence in your life with regard to your culinary journey?
Chef Scott: I had always loved sugar when I was a kid, so I was always trying to convince my mom that we needed to bake for the holidays or celebrations, just so that I could eat raw cookie dough all day and baked cookies later! I didn’t even consider baking as a career until I graduated high school and realized the only thing that would make me happier for a job would be being surrounded by sugar. My culinary journey has always been surrounded by different people that have influenced me, whether it be my grandmother who always showed her love through her food, or my friends that would continually support me when I didn’t feel strong enough to handle the industry, or even the people I have worked with (the good and the bad) that through experiences have lead me to find myself in the culinary world.
TrunkSpace: A lot of times in a chef’s career or education, they must choose between the savory cooking field or the sweeter pastry side. Was this the case for you? Did you have to choose between one or the other to pursue, and if so, what was it that drove you to pursue the pastry side of the cooking force?
Chef Scott: I think it is different for a lot of people, but for me I love pastry because desserts are a choice. You don’t order dessert because you have to, it’s because you want to! I love being a part of someone’s choice to treat themselves or to celebrate something between friends and family. It makes me feel fulfilled knowing that I have a part to play in other people’s happiness.
TrunkSpace: As a pastry chef, your work has to not only be delicious but colorful and beautiful as well. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process and how you go about creating your edible works of art? Do you start with flavor ideas or more of a visual of what you want it to look like?
Chef Scott: It is always different! I have books, documents, post-its and even napkins filled with flavor combinations, theme ideas, dessert inventions, or even just things I think are cool. Usually it is the need for a certain dessert that drives me and I take a long look at all of the notes I have produced and try to make something no one has had before. Whether it be a crazy flavor combination, a new type of dessert, or an exciting presentation – something always has to pop and stand out.
TrunkSpace: What has been the most rewarding part of your culinary adventure so far?
Chef Scott: The most rewarding part of my culinary journey isn’t exactly being on Food Network, it’s been after. To have people reach out to me (total strangers!) and tell me that they love my food, and that I inspire them?! That is amazing. I have always wanted to connect to people with my food, and the fact that I am doing that in a bigger way, is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.
TrunkSpace: On the flip side of that, what has been your most difficult challenge to over come and how did you go about doing it?
Chef Scott: The industry is not kind, in fact, it’s straight-up mean. After a lot of bad experiences with Executive Chefs and Owners, I was about to quit the industry completely. I had to reach out to my support system, admit that I was struggling, and ask for help. What I got back was a resurgence of support that landed me the courage to try one more restaurant – Puesto. Finally, I was surrounded with good people who pushed me to think outside of the box, appreciated the work I put in, and even now that I work at Barton G (another awesome environment), those guys are still good to me. I needed that.
TrunkSpace: Working in the food biz can be very rewarding but it can also very stressful and demanding. How do you handle that stress?
Chef Scott: I try to plan for the stress before it gets me. Plan for when a cook doesn’t show up for work, plan for last minute requests, and even plan on rewards I give myself when stress is just inevitable. You’re going to have hard days, but when that happens you need to learn from those experiences and reward yourself for getting through it. On days that I know are going to be INSANE, I always buy myself a nice coffee and chocolate croissant, save a Red Bull for the middle of the day, and plan something fun with my friends for my next day off.
TrunkSpace: You have been very busy as not only an executive pastry chef but as a fierce competitor on Food Network’s “Dessert Games” and “The Halloween Baking Championship.” What do you enjoy most about competing in these amazing culinary battles? And what is the most difficult aspect to competing on national television in an unfamiliar kitchen?
Chef Scott: I am incredibly competitive, so being in these culinary battles is exciting! You’ll see me RUN everywhere on TV because there is no way I am going to waste a second when there is a win on the line. I love that excitement of just knowing that you killed it, like, “Damn, you tried to trick me, and I took your challenge and gave a slam dunk!” The most difficult part about being on the show is just being in a new kitchen. You don’t know how the ovens work, you don’t know how fast the pans will get hot, and you don’t know where the heck the damn brown sugar is and you only have five more minutes!
TrunkSpace: Speaking of Halloween, we are huge fans of the holiday here at TrunkSpace, so we have to ask…what does an executive pastry chef hand out on Halloween for trick or treaters?
Chef Scott: Well, the trick or treaters get my favorite candy – sour punch straws! I love `em! But for my Halloween parties, I always like to put a little more effort in since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. My favorite Halloween dessert has to be my devil’s food cake cupcakes with raspberry red wine “blood” filling topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
TrunkSpace: Similarly, we have to have to ask with the holidays coming up, what does a holiday spread look like at an executive pastry chef’s house? Do you have any energy left in the tank for that after the holiday rush? Or is it Chinese take out all the way?
Chef Scott: If I get the holiday off, then I love to cook during the holidays – as long as I have company. Food should be shared from beginning to end, so I make sure that whoever plans on eating is also a part of the process. That means singing songs over the sound of the blender, shaking your hips while you chop, and laughing throughout it all! I usually keep it pretty traditional when it comes to the spread, but for some reason my favorite thing to do during the holidays is play bartender and make boozy drinks that remind me of dessert. Mezcal Eggnog is the shit!
TrunkSpace: With the advancement of technology in the past years, food has also advanced in many ways, especially on the pastry/dessert side. Has it changed the way you approach your food creations? And if so, in what way?
Chef Scott: I think it hasn’t exactly changed the way I approach food, but has actually fueled myself finding my own style of food. You can see through social media what trends people are looking for, and if you see past the unicorn latte bazooka pie – people love things that are eye-catching, exciting, and bring the fun back into food. That’s what I strive for, and that’s what I crave for even myself.
TrunkSpace: You have already accomplished so much in your career at an early age. What is next for you? Any other competitions, books or pop-ups fans can watch for on the culinary scene?
Chef Scott: There is so much I want to do! I take every opportunity that comes my way, so whether that be creating, writing, or being on TV more – I’m down for wherever life takes me. I currently work for Barton G, a crazy over-the-top restaurant that strives to give people a dining experience they’ve never had. I am working on some insane desserts that I am really excited to show the public, and been having the time of my life working with such creative minds that push me to make things I have only dreamed of.
TrunkSpace: If the Monopoly guy showed up one day with a blank check for you to open your own restaurant, whether that would be a brick and mortar, food truck or gastropub, what would your vision be? Where would it be located and what type of food would you focus on?
Chef Scott: If I am going to open my own place, and pour my heart and soul into it – everything about that place has to revolve around my passions. I am a simple person at heart, and I need the beach, peace and good food in my life. I recently fell in love with San Sebastian in Spain, so I would absolutely need to open a place there right next to the water so that I could see that type of beauty every day. Two things on the menu – sandwiches and ice cream! I can never eat enough of both, and they are the only two things I could ever imagine obsessing over day in and day out to make sure that my guests felt the love of my passion through my food and the environment I had them in.