Note from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt: I can't remember when I first met Yvonne, but I clearly recall the first time I tasted her awesome triple chocolate mousse cake. From that day on, it was clear that her destiny lay as the chocolate recipe writer for Serious Eats. Today's your chance to get to know our resident Chocoholic a little better. Got dessert recipe requests for Yvonne? Please leave them in the comments.
Name: Yvonne Ruperti
Occupation: freelance food writer, recipe developer, food stylist
Tell us a bit about your training and career path. After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in art history, I decided that I'd rather be making art instead of managing it. I was drawn to the artistic element in dessert plating and wedding cakes, so I enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America to study Baking and Pastry. After a few stints as a pastry chef on Long Island and Connecticut, I opened my own bakery, called Desserticus, which I ran for about 5 years.
Wanting to round out my career even further, I landed a job as a test cook and writer at America's Test Kitchen, where I developed recipes and stories for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. I also had the opportunity to be on their cooking television show, America's Test Kitchen TV, for 3 seasons. I'm based in Singapore at the moment, where my husband is teaching. I'm developing my freelance work here, as well as soaking up as much knowledge of Asian cuisine as I can!
What's your favorite dessert? Chocolate anything! But if I have to pick, I'd say a molten chocolate cake—there's nothing sexier than warm gooey chocolate.
What was the best dessert you ate last year? A coworker was developing a recipe for a banana pudding, with whipped cream, fresh banana, and Nilla wafers—I just couldn't get enough of it!
What are a few of your favorite bakeries or restaurants for dessert? In New York, I like Balthazar Bakery—but I'm dying to get over to Baked in Brooklyn. In Boston, I like Tatte Bakery and Flour Bakery. For dessert at restaurants, I like Craigie on Main in Cambridge, MA. And though not a specific restaurant, I always have to order a giant slice of NY cheesecake at any old-school deli or diner—complete with canned red cherry topping.
How do you get inspired in the kitchen? I love coming up with a meal from odds and ends in the fridge—it's a great way to stay creative. And I'm constantly flipping through my cookbooks. I always find something to cook that I've never made before.
What are your guilty pleasures? I've got lots. For junk food, it's Drake's Funny Bones, instant ramen noodles, Kraft mac and cheese, late night runs to Gray's Papaya, American cheese, cheap pepperoni. I can eat copious amounts of any cured meat in one sitting, especially soppressata. And don't ever, ever, leave me alone with a cheese plate.
Describe your perfect meal. While traveling, having the opportunity to sample an authentically prepared local dish, especially something I've never had before—and loving it.
What food won't you eat? Chicken feet! Also, unless it's pate, I just have never warmed up to organ meats. Oh, and as a child I got sick on Twizzlers. I haven't eaten a Twizzler since, and I can't stomach licorice.
What would you like to try but haven't yet? Pork Bakkwa: thin sheets of sticky sweet-salty, Chinese pork jerky. They have these shops all over Singapore.
Favorite food person? Anyone who invites me to a serious home cooked meal.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? When I was about 12 and found myself way more interested in my mom's Bon Appetit magazines than all of the girly-sexy Cosmopolitan mags she had laying around the house!
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours?
Kenji Lopez-Alt :) I'd call him up for any recommendation, especially in the NY-Boston area.
And what's the best recommendation he's ever given you? Shake Shack.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I'm always in the mood for the shakshouka at Andala Cafe in Cambridge, and Ayib Begomen (cottage cheese with mitmita and gomen) at Addis Red Sea in Boston, and a big and juicy dry aged steak at Peter Luger in Brooklyn.
Do you ever cook savory foods? What's the best dish you make? I cook all of the time. And when I'm not cooking, I'm thinking about cooking. I'm pretty happy with my Ma Po Tofu right now. It's a quick to pull together dish that satisfies my Sichuan addiction.
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