The top floor of John Besh’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans is home to the pastry kitchen. Chef Kelly Fields and her staff spend most of their days here perfecting their decadent desserts and the expectations for greatness are high. Since August frequents ‘best restaurant’ lists of the world and has twice been nominated for a James Beard award, it’s clear that chef Fields and her team do not disappoint.
She originally started at August in 2002, but after Hurricane Katrina, she spent time as the pastry chef at Biltmore Estate before traveling across Europe and the Middle East. She opened a restaurant of her own in Redwood City, Calif. called Martins West Gastropub but left San Francisco and spent a few months traveling across New Zealand before returning to August in 2010.
“For me inspiration is everywhere,” Fields explained. "[It’s in] art, nature, music, peers, and everyone I'm lucky enough to share time with.”
Through all her travels, she has been able to absorb so many sights and sounds to channel into her desserts. While her flavors are classics (chocolate, peanut butter, banana, salted caramel), she innovates in her use of textures. The chocolate pretzel dessert is peanut caramel, raisin, and pretzel ice cream. In the “hot chocolate” torte, she uses marshmallow, caramelized brioche, and butter ice cream.
“Everything is constantly evolving and changing, hopefully, for the better,” she says. “That's the best part of this industry, the constant forward motion.”
The desserts chef Fields creates can be intricate but as far as her favorites to eat, she says, "I am, and always will be, a sucker for warm chocolate chip cookies and brownie ice cream sundaes."
Layers of Flavor
Using a blowtorch, chef Fields caramelizes a banana for her banana pudding dessert. When asked what she loves about working with pastry, Fields answers: "The relationship you create with your ingredients to understand them, and how they may change day by day (humidity, temperature, seasonality). And the constant self-discipline required to achieve the same exceptional results under so many changing circumstances."
Jane Bruce is the Photo Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @janeebruce.