Serious Eats' pastry expert, Stella Parks, a.k.a. BraveTart, is so disarmingly charming as our guest on Special Sauce, you'll undoubtedly fall in love with her the way all of us at Serious Eats World Headquarters have. In this week's episode, we learn that Stella started working in restaurants at the tender age of 14, after first investigating her state's child labor laws (she worked less than 20 hours a week, if you're wondering). After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and working as a pastry chef in restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky, Stella chucked it all amidst what she calls a quarter-life crisis and moved to Japan to learn the language—not knowing a single soul.
Now back in the US, Stella has her hands full with testing and writing Serious Eats' dessert recipes while she finishes her upcoming cookbook, titled BraveTart after her online moniker (and the blog I ran across many years ago, which led me to seek her out as a contributor). The book is a tribute to classic American treats, like Snickers and Oreos, because Stella believes that these sweets are often looked down on in food culture, and that that condescension denies their validity as part of the American experience.
You'll also find out what Stella does with all those pies she makes while testing recipes at her home in Lexington; hear about her heroes, both culinary (Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker) and personal (Geordi La Forge and Zelda, of Star Trek: TNG and video game fame, respectively); and learn how one of her most ingenious pastry techniques—toasting sugar—was developed completely by mistake. Don't miss this one!
You Could Be on Special Sauce
Want to chat with me and Kenji? We're accepting questions for Special Sauce call-in episodes now. Do you have a long-standing argument with your parents over how to make a moist, tender brisket? The best way to make red sauce? The best menu for Thanksgiving dinner or weekend brunch with friends? Does your brother make the worst lasagna, and you want to figure out how to give him tips? We want to get to know you and solve all your food-related problems. Send us the whole story at specials[email protected].
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.