Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
In her new role as Executive Pastry Chef at The Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla (including on-site restaurant NINE-TEN), Rachel King is taking full advantage of the summer bounty, creating a fruit-forward dessert menu where figs, peaches, plums, watermelon, and berries play starring roles.
"Summer is awesome because there's so much fruit, but it also can be kind of overwhelming because you want to use it all. It's my favorite season because of that," says King, adding that she sources most of her fresh fruit from Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe and Specialty Produce.
In her previous position as Executive Pastry Chef at the Enlightened Hospitality Group, King didn't work at nights, only production. There, her desserts featured familiar flavor combinations, presented in a fairly straight-forward manner (a necessity, given the high volume of the restaurants). At NINE-TEN, she manages a team of three pastry chefs, working all the way from production to plating. She says she's still equally busy, but that it's "a different kind of busy," and one that suits her better.
If you've enjoyed King's desserts in the past, you'll be happy to see that many of the same base recipes remain the same, but with different flavor combinations and more intricate plating.
"I can branch out a little bit more with different flavor profiles instead of chocolate and peanut butter, or familiar things people gravitate towards. I think people are a little bit more adventurous here, which is nice. I think it's an expectation of the restaurant. Nobody is going to come here wanting a piece of red velvet," she explains.