Seems like we've been excited about chef Jason Stoneburner's new culinary digs for a while, so naturally we were intrigued to hear about the addition of a pastry chef role to his kitchen. Meet Elizabeth Shoemaker, Stoneburner's newest asset and artist of all things sweet and savory.
After working her way up at Canlis for four years— from a three-month internship to getting hired on as a pastry cook, and later pastry sous chef—Shoemaker is enjoying running her own program. There's talk of items like like panna cotta and basil ice cream, so leave room for dessert.
Here, a few of Elizabeth Shoemaker's favorite things:
Favorite dessert to make at home: Funfetti is and always will be my favorite cake to bake for friends' birthdays, and special (casual) gatherings. My roommates also love it, so I try to stay on their good side by baking it every now and then.
Signature pastry: I love to spend time making chocolate bon bons and creating new flavors packed into one chocolaty bite. I once made an Old Fashioned bon bon with bitters ganache, whiskey caramel and candied orange peel. Delicious!
First thing ever baked: Legitimately? I could never say. But I do have a memory of trying to bake bread when I was very little. I remember mixing flour, water, and salt in a bowl and cooking it in the microwave. Obviously, it was not a great success.
Dessert you wish you could make more of: I have little experience with sugar work and making candies. I would love more time and practice in making candy, because who doesn't love candy?
Most underappreciated baked good: People love great bread and laminated doughs, but I don't think enough people fully appreciate a great cookie. I love butter short dough, and I really take a lot of pride in my chocolate chip cookies. A good cookie should take a full day to make.
Favorite ingredient to work with: I love slipping herbs and spices into my desserts, but hands down, I have to say chocolate. It is one of the most versatile, rich, and flavorful ingredients.
Most memorable kitchen disaster: I really try to avoid kitchen disasters. One of the funniest that I can think of, however, was a time when I was doing inventory in dry storage. My coworker and I were pulling down fish tubs to weigh the product. The lid came off and a tub full of baking powder fell onto the sommelier walking by, covering him and his suit during service! I was totally scared, until he started laughing.
Hardest thing to make: This is a difficult question to answer. I feel that different types of dessert components or techniques have different challenges. But I will say that French macarons possess a quality to them that makes them hard to create consistently. They are affected by so very many things, from humidity to heat to mixing to piping to size to baking temperature to drying time and so forth. Each of these things needs to be taken into consideration when making these delicious, tender cookies—one of my favorites!
Place to eat and drink on a day off: My absolute favorite place to eat is La Carta de Oaxaca; the food there is just so simple and flavorful, and the margaritas are the best in town. I have a whole list of places I would very much like to eat at, but I need more friends, or maybe a date?
Favorite way to relax: There are several ways that I unwind. I love going out to dinner with a close friend, making dinner for loved ones, taking my dogs to the beach or sitting on my deck sipping a glass of wine. It is difficult for me to chose just one favorite way, but it's hard to beat laying in bed and reading a good book.
Best part of your job: Besides creative freedom, I have worked with some of the best, most comical and down-to-earth people I—or anyone else—could ever meet. I absolutely love the folks who fill the kitchen.
People you'd like to work with: I would like to work with anyone willing to work with me. But Christina Tossi's fun and simple desserts at Momofuku Milk Bar are right up my ally. She has Funfetti cake in her cookbook!
Can't live without: Honestly, and does this have to be food related? My bed. I feel this may be a common answer from people in the food industry. Other things include my father, mother, sister, and my puppies. Food related? My cookbooks. I have a lot of them, and each one has different things to teach me.
Dessert is… Magical. It is the main attraction of birthday parties, the last thing you eat in a meal, and the opposite of savory. I take a lot of pride in sending the guest something that I know will be the last thing that will touch their taste buds, so I try to leave a lasting impression. I don't know about you, but I can't eat something salty without something sweet.
If you weren’t a pastry chef you would be… A personal trainer. I may not be in peak physical condition right now, but I love to work out and push others. Several years ago, I helped a close relative shed a lot of pounds, and safely!