“I do food, I just happen to use a little more sugar,” says Bryce Caron. The Food & Wine best new pastry chef— one of the first five ever named— was let go from Blackbird three weeks ago; on Friday it was announced that he’s joining graham elliot, working in the kitchen alongside executive chef Andrew Brochu. And in this new job, he says that his goal is to “eliminate the position of pastry chef.” We spoke with him Friday about how his new position came about and what he really plans to do at graham elliot.
So when you were let go from Blackbird, you were talking about pursuing something on the east or west coasts. Yet not only did graham elliot come through, it now seems like the obvious place for you to be. How did it come about?
Well, before the corpse was even cold, so to speak, I had a few job offers. And then Andrew Brochu texted me on Facebook and said hey, do you want to come in for dinner at graham elliot? And right after that, I guess Graham Elliot, the chef, texted Andrew and said, do you want to talk to him, and he already was. So I was fired on Friday, Andrew texted me on Saturday and I came in for dinner on Sunday.
It was cool to see how what I do could work in the context of a tasting menu— I’ve never worked somewhere that did that kind of menu. So a week later I came in to stage— it was a weird night, we had two parties of twenty and were closed to the public. I saw some things about how I could work, where I could add a few things. And, well, I don’t want to put words in their mouths about what they were thinking, but here we are.
So what’s different about doing desserts for a tasting menu?
The difference is that it’s not just sending out one dish at the end of the meal. It’s the opportunity to collaborate on a seamless transition. I’m responsible for the last four courses out of fifteen, plus the intermezzo and the amuse-bouche.
It always raises my hackles when I hear that I do savory desserts. I do food, I just happen to use a little more sugar. With a tasting menu there’s the opportunity to contribute to the overall balance of the meal— one course is super-acidic, another one is super-sweet. If you have four or five dishes under your control, you can spread out the balance of the dishes.
My goal is to eliminate the position of “pastry chef.” I’m a chef. It’s an exciting opportunity for me, to be able to think about how to break up one palatial experience and make it balanced.
How do you see yourself working with Chef Brochu? We got the sense that you were kind of off by yourself in the second-floor pastry kitchen at Blackbird.
I should say that [Blackbird chef] David Posey is a dear friend and I loved working with him. But yeah, when he’s working in the basement butchering a fish, and you’re on the second floor, it’s harder to talk. You can’t just reach over and say “Here, taste this.” Andrew and I will be in the same kitchen, working with the same equipment, the same ingredients, the same ovens, the same dry storage.
I’m really excited about collaborating with him, trying to make it a seamless menu. I lived around the corner from Kith & Kin and I probably went there 23 times in the ten months it was open. I think he does really exciting work when he’s not just making fried chicken [a signature Kith & Kin dish].
So I can’t wait to start. I’m off to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic, where I’ll meet up with Shawn Gawle [fellow F&W; best pastry chef, of New York’s Corton]. Then it’s back to work.