Jeff Bonilla is one of the most playful pastry chefs in San Diego. As Executive Pastry Chef at L'Auberge Del Mar, he's responsible for everything from the modernist-leaning fine dining desserts at Kitchen 1540 to the more everyday offerings at the Waterfall Terrace, plus in-room dining and banquets. But left his own devices, he really cranks up the creativity, turning chocolate milk into frozen cubes, frothing caramel, and creating chocolate consommé spaghetti.
It's fun to watch him at work, but even more so when it's time to taste. During several hours inside the pastry kitchen at L'Auberge Del Mar, I sampled a few new fall desserts, including a pumpkin cheesecake and a killer German chocolate cake, then watched as he prepared some of the key elements in the peach and olive oil cremeux, one of the new fall desserts available at Kitchen 1540.
Of the many desserts I tasted (all in the name of science), the peach and olive oil cremeux was the stand-out. It's playful and multi-dimensional, yet well-balanced and light—something you don't always encounter in fall desserts. Jeff said he's getting mixed reviews from diners, but from my standpoint, there was nothing on this plate that I didn't absolutely love.
Take a look at the slide-show for a behind-the-scenes peek into one of San Diego's most exciting pastry kitchens.