David GuasIn September 2007, Pastry Chef David Guas exchanges his longtime corporate role for an entrepreneurial path that includes private consultation, boutique catering, cookbook authoring, and, eventually, his own retail bakery. Damgoodsweet Consulting Group, LLC, the irreverent name he has given his company, is the perfect description for all of his work. In the beginning, however, odds were against the native New Orleanian having a culinary career at all. His family expected him to become a doctor. It was clear to this young man, however, that becoming a chef was his calling and the only path he could ever consider. Fortunately for Guas, his family background actually helped him chase his dream, all the way to the nation’s capital where, for nearly ten years he was the Executive Pastry Chef of Acadiana, Ceiba, DC Coast, and TenPenh restaurants. In the Guas family, all gatherings and entertainment centered around food. From a very early age, during visits from his Cuban relatives, the curious boy seemed always to be playing indoors and not outside with the other kids. In this family, it was not always the women taking charge in the kitchen. Guas’ first mentor, his grandfather, inspired and taught him that being in the kitchen did not make him any less of a man. “Abuelo” (grandfather) opened Guas’ eyes to appreciate the cuisine of his Cuban heritage. “When Abuelo was visiting, my lunch changed drastically and my classmates knew from a single whiff of my lunch bag who had packed it that day.” Guas has fond memories of the pressed Cuban sandwiches with extra pickles and mustard. Whenever Abuelo visited, he prepared a new Cuban dish for his family to taste. “If only I had written down the recipes, I would have my first cookbook already,” Guas laments. There was, in fact, a strong feminine influence as well, right in his own backyard, in the form of his grandmother from Amite, Louisiana. “Granny” could often be found in the kitchen “burning” flour and butter in an iron skillet and promising that it was “goin’ to be good eatin’.” She taught Guas to appreciate the fruits of Louisiana’s soil, cooking with seasonal blackberries, strawberries, and even wild berries from the back woods. “It was so much fun picking berries or visiting nearby fruit and vegetable stands with my cousins first thing in the morning,” remembers Guas. Unlike most native Louisianians, who used large amounts of sugar and butter in everything they cooked, Guas’ Granny stewed and puréed the fruits naturally, often blending them with savory herbs to flavor poultry and meats. Sunday morning breakfast was a ritualistic gathering, with buckwheat or cornbread pancakes and puréed fig preserves or fruit syrup, all natural and no sugar added. (But don’t think for a minute that Guas didn’t sneak any of the butter tucked away in the fridge, which was, after all, an acceptable sneak with Granny – because she had made it!) Unwittingly, the young Guas was learning techniques he would eventually incorporate into his future desserts. The base provided by Guas’ family was strong. Add to that a natural talent and a passion for updating timeless desserts, and you have a recipe for success. Guas doesn’t boast a formal culinary degree, but a few specialized cooking classes at a small culinary school in New Orleans taught him the basic, classical preparations, as well as certain cutting-edge techniques he needed to secure a job in a high-profile kitchen. As an associate pastry chef at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans with Executive Chef Jeff Tunks at the helm, Guas churned out thousands of desserts per week to the delight of locals and national critics alike. Tunks took notice of this talented young assistant and began courting him: Tunks was leaving New Orleans to open his own restaurant in Washington, DC, and he needed a pastry chef. Guas packed up his bags and went off to Washington. DC Coast opened in June 1998 to critical acclaim. TenPenh followed two years later in August 2000, to more of the same, and Guas became Executive Pastry Chef, splitting his time between the two restaurants. In September 2003, he drew deeply from his Cuban heritage to create Latin American- and Caribbean-inspired desserts for Ceiba. And two years after that, in September 2005, with the opening of Acadiana, Guas developed sophisticated interpretations of his hometown dessert favorites from beignets to Bananas Foster. During his years with Passion Food Hospitality, Guas’ desserts were recognized and praised by such publications as Food & Wine, Chocolatier, Santé, Cooking Light, Food Arts, Where Washington, Restaurant Digest, Restaurant Business, National Culinary Review, and Nation’s Restaurant News. In September 2003, Bon Appétit featured Guas as one of eight “Dessert Stars” in the country. In 2004, the fourth year he was nominated, Guas was named Pastry Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Chefs, and has appeared regularly on The Today Show, demonstrating his expertise on national television. Of Guas’ sweets, the restaurant critic of The Washington Post writes, “I have yet to find a single dessert I can say no to,” and the critic of Washingtonian magazine states emphatically that Guas’ desserts are “worth saving room for.” Very sweet, indeed.
Hi, I am David Guas with Damgoodsweet Consulting Group here in the Washington DC area. Were talking about Beignets today. Weve already portioned our beignets and directly from our work surface, were going to go ahead and just go right to our hot peanut oil, which has already been set up at 350 degrees. You can tell, its very difficult sometimes to regulate your temperature. So make sure that you get it on early enough right after your beignets are proofing. So stepping back slightly, were going to just slowly lower these beignets into the hot oil, keeping an eye on the temperature. What happens is, generally you have a tendency with the beignets, especially if theyre cold, your oil temperature may drop. So, you want to make sure that as youre adding your beignets, that youre not losing temperature at the same time. Its important to have these beignets fry at 350, anything less than that, it will start to absorb oil and become greasy.
Now, each side takes about a minute or so. But you dont have to completely submerge them, just like a donut. You can fry them on one side then flip them. We have our drain station set up ready to go. And thats how we fry these beignets, giving them a few minutes to cool off prior to plating them.