The entrance to Beauty & Essex on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, next to Essex Street Market, is hard to miss. In what used to be a furniture store, you’ll find a pawn shop-esque entryway, a sophisticated bar, a decadent dining room, and, past a sweeping chandelier and a spiral staircase, a massive second floor bar. Epic light fixtures and inviting couches line the dining room walls. They’re serving great food in a chic, nightclub atmosphere.
While the walls vibrate with the noise of the crowd talking over the music, the kitchen works in the basement to feed the masses. The benefit of having such a large restaurant space — the kitchen is just as expansive as the floors above it. To get to the main kitchen, you have to pass Jaime Sudberg’s pastry kitchen. There, she’s preparing rich, full-flavored desserts, like the pistachio baklava and butterscotch pot de crème. Flavors like hazelnut, cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate are common on her menu.
Sudberg got her start in the kitchen at home with her mother. “One year I even took over the apple pie at Thanksgiving and made it three different ways,” she says. She took her mother’s muffin recipe, perfected it, and went from there. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, she spent time in the kitchens of Windows on the World, Union Square Café, and Lever House Restaurant. When asked what the best part about working in pastry is, she says, “That I get to eat it!!!” We agree.
Brushing the Phyllo Dough
Chef Sudberg brushes the phyllo pastry dough with butter before layering in a muffin tin.
The phyllo dough is baked then topped with pistachios. "I love the basics — flour, sugar, eggs. Add in nuts and baking powder or fruit…mix it up and see what you get," Sudberg explains.
Jane Bruce is the Photo Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @janeebruce.