The other morsel of deliciousness came from the pastry chef at Lidia Bastianich's restaurant in Kansas City.... I've become accustomed to New York ways and expect New York to have some of the better food in the country. But Danica Pollard, the pastry chef, made an impression last night. She put out the only other dish that made me wish I weren't in public so I could wipe my plate clean with my tongue ... the ultra sweet custardy flan sang notes of a smooth baritone on the tongue. The result was a symphony of flavors that left my mouth in search of more high and low, tangy and creamy sensations. I was so happy, after tasting all the other dishes, to sample something that was so perfectly nuanced, that my faith was restored in the event.Praise doesn't come much higher than that.
Her star-studded resume includes stints at Nobu and Jean-Georges Vongerichten's 66. She returned to
Kansas City to be around her family -- "you don't get many holidays off
in this business" -- and has been at Lidia's for nearly two years. She
wasn't expecting to return to New York but in January an envelope arrived
in the mail. "I didn't even look to see who it was from and when I read
it I was actually quite shocked."
Pollard had to submit two dishes, knowing she'd have
to feed 1,000 and that she wouldn't have any refrigeration. The committee
chose her bonet, which she said was a relief. "It was the dish I wanted
to make ... I knew the dinner was in May and it has a very feminine
spring sort of a feel. I also knew that I wanted to use rhubarb
because it's pretty under-appreciated."
Pollard has put the toasted-almond bonet on Lidia's menu until the end
of the month and is getting ready for that next envelope in the mail. "If
they would have me again, I'd love to go!"
(Image via James Beard Foundation)