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.
David Guas: Hi! My name is David Guas with Damgoodsweet Consulting Group here in the Washington, D.
C. Area. We are talking about decorating our fun and spooky cupcakes for Halloween. So, here we already have our cupcakes which have completely cooled, give them a good 45 minutes to an hour. You dont want any sort of warmth or heat to them otherwise the icing will just run-off. What we are going to do is we have our milk which in this case is a quarter of a cup and we have our two and a half cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
We are going to add our milk to our chips and then we are going to place it in microwave on high for about a minute. In between the intervals of cooking or heating this we want to stop the microwave and stir with a spoon to ensure that there is no burning. So, initially I set the timer for 1 minute. We want to stop right after about 45 seconds or so and stir the ingredients to ensure that it is not burning and it also depends on the age of your microwave. If you have a high powered microwave that is fairly new, obviously you need to be more conscious of burning the chocolate. If it is an older model you will know the intervals of which needs to heat it.
We are going to stop it at this point. Remove it and then stir. At this point by feeling the bottom of the bowl, I feel we have enough heat to completely ensure the chocolates are melt. Just because it is not instantly melting, the tendency is to return it to the microwave. You dont want to do that. So, after the initial heating process, we are going to continue to stir the chocolate and milk until it is completely smooth. This may take a minute or so. Once all the lumps are melted then all of a sudden the chocolate mixture is nice and smooth. At this point, we are going to add some of our chow mein noodles. Once our chocolate is completely smooth and our chow mein and our rice crispies all together, I am going to go ahead and grab a stainless steel bowl just to ensure an even mixing process. Go ahead and transfer your completely smooth melted chocolate mixture. Then at this point add your dry chow mein and rice crispies. We have added a half a cup of rice crispies and three quarters of a cup of the chow mein noodles. Once you just lightly fold it and see how I am just turning this over, you dont want to mix it up too aggressively then we will break up our spider legs. At this point, we have our parchment paper; you can add or drop just about a tablespoon or so.
Try to keep them round and tight as this is the body of our spider. At this point, we are going to reserve this because we are going to pull out some of the chow mein noodles to make the individual legs for the spiders. While this is setting, give it about 10 minutes to set. We are going to go ahead and start icing our cupcakes with our vanilla frosting, using an offset spatula or butter knife. Give it a nice hefty topping of this vanilla frosting. This is going to act as the canvas or background to our wonderful spooky spider artistry cupcakes. At this point you can also place your spider body on top of the cupcake and then removing some of the chow mein, you create our spider legs. This is where the kids really enjoy participating in this. So, it is fun to prepare and also fun to eat.
There is our spider cupcake for spooky Halloween.