Monday, October 10, 2011

Chef Nick Wesemann, Part Three: A guide to ordering off the dessert menu

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 10:30 AM

A smoked vanilla melon dessert from pastry chef Nick Wesemann.
Dessert is often overlooked. You're usually too full of food or drink to begin even to think about tackling the final course. So, Fat City asked pastry chef Nick Wesemann of the American Restaurant to make it easier for you and provide a blueprint for the best way to approach a dessert menu.

On Thursday, he shared what brought him to the kitchen at the American. And on Friday, he talked about how he draws inspiration from video games. His thoughts on the most important course of the night are after the jump.

I usually save room for dessert. At a place I'm excited for dessert, I'll eat more dessert food than savory. But another option is to go with lots of people, because then you get to try lots of things. I get excited when someone out in the dining room orders two or three dessert courses. I feel like these are my people. Why can you only have one dessert? Forget all the calories. We've evolved to crave higher calorie sweet and sugar foods. Why do you think the monkeys reached for the sweetest, ripest fruit? Don't just eat salad. Eat dessert.

I was just thinking about this the other day. It seems like there are two different perspectives on it. There's the traditional where you start with your lighter flavors and then move to your darker ones. That way, if you have a dessert with more delicate flavors, herbs or citrus, you won't eat a really intense dark-chocolate dessert before that and completely mute everything that comes after it.

But the only problem I have with starting light and then going dark is that if you've just eaten an appetizer, a salad and an entree, it then gets really dark. You want to lighten it up, then have something heavy — it's like you've restarted your dinner. There's no progression; there's just this sudden drop.

I love the amuse at the restaurant because it gives you a break between sweet and savory. And lately I've been thinking, after your entree you should then do cheese. That takes you from the savory into the sweet realm with the cheese and the fat. It's not completely dessert, so then you could do a dessert amuse and now you're in that sweet realm. The more I think I about it, I'd like to do a heavy dessert like chocolate and then go to lighter foods at the bottom of the spectrum. That way, you'd finish your meal with a crisp and refreshing dessert as opposed to chocolate or caramel. Sometimes you end the meal and you're like, 'Oh my God,' I just ate a pound of chocolate, or you have a light lemon dessert and you're either really refreshed or really oversatisfied.

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