Some chefs sleep away their nonworking days, others dress up like Mad Men characters and party with their boss. Here, a day off with Poppy pastry chef Dana Cree.

This last Monday I had a very full day. After waking up in the morning, I made my usual cup of coffee— Victrola Ethiopia Harrar. Then I made a peach pie with ginger and buttermilk ice cream to go on top. I donated a “Dessert of the Month” to the Stranger’s auction, and I’ve been doing it for the same family for almost two years now. I delivered it myself.
Then I came home and changed into this awesome blue vintage dress with a graphic white stripe down the middle. It’s so awesome! It’s like something from
Mad Men. I found it at the Goodwill in Shoreline.I gave myself this poufy 60’s style hairdo to match.

That night I went to a surprise 50th birthday party for Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy’s owner. I brought an icebox cake I made for Jerry the day before, but he didn’t like it at all. I think of it as this really traditional 50s recipe—a very East Coast thing. My mom and grandma are from Jersey, and it’s the only cake my mom ever made. First you layer chocolate wafers with vanilla whipped cream, and then leave it in the freezer to soak up the whipped cream over night. The wafers get soft and spongy like cake. It has a cookies and cream flavor.
Matt Dillon, chef at The Corson Building and Sitka and Spruce, was there. He is amazing. He made this cold salad with air-dried tuna, fried Japanese sweet peppers, watermelon, and purslane (a wild green).
Another friend, Ernie Pino, made this giant paella on the barbeque. It had everything in it—two types of chorizo, chicken, rabbit, big prawns, escargot, and calamari. He used a technique he learned in Spain. First you cook the paella over really high heat to get that crust on the bottom. Then you cover the top with shaved ice when it’s done. The ice melts into the paella and stops the starches from over-cooking. It also helps the texture.
For drinks, we had Caipirinhas, Jeff’s wife is Brazilian so she made the drinks. And Jerry also made a dessert. We tricked him into thinking it was just a barbeque, and he had to bring dessert. So he made plum lavender tarts. And that was my night.

Make Dana Cree’s Coffee Cake with Orange-Rhubarb Compote or blue cheese ice cream with streusel.

Learn what other chefs do on their days off.

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