If you were to ask Rosemary Rhodes, grandmother of Oddfellows new (and first-ever) pastry chef Yoshiko Rhodes, what influenced her granddaughter’s passion for baking, Rosemary would confidently let you know it was she herself.
Yoshiko Rhodes went on to get a culinary degree, but says she would often spend holidays at her grandmother’s house baking, recalling one Christmas where they made some 400 gingerbread cookies for the local VFW. Even now Grandma Rhodes is known to send inventive concoctions to relatives like homemade bread in coffee cans. Her signature shortbread and banana bread now fill the new case at Oddfellows, and this fall her pumpkin bread will make an appearance as well.
After working at Trophy Cupcakes, and Le Pichet, where she says she laid her foundation, this is the 24-year-old chef’s first head pastry chef role—complete with 4am wakeup time. Along with executive chef Forrest Brunton (formerly of Golden Beetle), Rhodes hopes to make Oddfellows’ dessert case a destination for tarts, layered cakes, and treats like her recently added salmon and dill scone. She will also be redoing the dessert menu—summer treats include a chocolate terrine with pistachios, and rosewater creme anglaise. Grandma must be proud.
Here, a few of Yoshiko Rhodes’s favorite things:
Dessert to make at home: I love making ice cream and sorbets, mostly because I love eating with spoons.
Dessert to impress a guest: I really love making tarts. Fresh fruit, baked fruit, or chocolate. Always a crowd pleaser.
First pastry ever made: Professionally, my first job I worked at a bakery where I made about 200 pounds of scones a day!!!
Special-occasion dessert: To eat? French-style pistachio macaroons. To make…depends on what I am inspired by. Dessert ideas usually come to me when I’m strolling through the Sunday market on Capitol Hill or at Pike Place Market.
Chocolate is… MESSY! But is one of my favorite ingredients to work with. Chocolate tastes delicious.
Pastry trend you could do without: All of the ’90s. The architectural dessert movement in the ’90s was one of the most impractical dessert trends. Yes, the desserts were beautiful and lovely but as soon as up put a fork or spoon through any dessert it would fall apart and be completely impossible to eat.
Secret techniques: Can’t tell you! My grandmother says that I have to take all the family techniques to the grave.
Family recipe: Some of the new items in the Oddfellows pastry case are my grandmother’s recipes.
Hardest lesson learned in the kitchen: Tuck in your fingers when using your knife. I lost a good chunk of my index finger that way.
Late night snack: BLTs or forbidden rice pudding with coconut milk and fresh mango.
Dread making: I hate scooping cookies.
Guilty pleasure: I put gummy bears on everything.
Hangover remedy: Soda water, rhubarb bitters, and lime, and kimchi stew.
Place to grab some good desserts: I really love the dessert thali at Poppy. It’s a little bit of everything. They suggest it for two but I can easily eat it all by myself for dinner.
Place to have a cocktail or eat dinner: Currently my favorite restaurant is Dinette. I love how cozy the space is and I really enjoy their home-style cuisine.
Biggest tool splurge: Five rubber silpats. I never let anyone borrow them and I never bring them to work.
On the wish list: Cotton candy machine.
Cant live with out: Mini offset spatula.
Work outfit: I never wear matching socks. It’s bad luck to have matching socks.
Breakfast dish: Two overeasy eggs over black beans and bacon. Two pieces of sourdough bread.
Lunch spot: I don’t really have one because I am usually at work still but when I get off of work I like to go to Green Leaf in the International district.
Cookbook: I have this old cookbook from the ’50s that used to be my grandmother’s. I don’t know what it’s called because both the cover and cover pages are torn off from overuse.
People I would like to cook with: Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar [in New York]. She’s so original and creative.
Food shop: Shops at Pike Place Market. I know a lot of the shop owners in the market. I really love the small community aspect of the downtown market.
Place to buy ingredients: Franks Quality Produce at Pike Place Market. I spend a lot of time there especially with the stand’s manager, Mike. He treats me like I was one of his own daughters… which means he scolds me a lot.
Biggest cooking disaster: Mistaking salt for sugar. Happens more often than you think.