Well-known as the former Executive Pastry Chef of Bobby Flay’s restaurants Mesa Grill and Bar Americain and of Buddakan, Chef Vicki Wells has appeared on Boy Meets Grill, Hot off the Grill, and as one of Flay’s sous chefs on Iron Chef America five times. After studying at La Varenne, she worked with Michel Rostang in Paris and at Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. In New York, she has worked in the kitchens of Sarabeth’s Kitchen, Maxime’s, Montrachet, Rakel, Metro, El Dorado Petit, Le Bernardin and Trattoria Dell’Arte. Pastry Art & Design named her one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America in both 2002 and 2003. She is now a Chef Instructor in the professional Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE. Yesterday, she gave an afternoon demo to ICE students on three of her favorite Mediterranean desserts.
Chef Vicki talked about how she had grown up in an Italian American household and knew all the flavors of the Mediterranean but it was her travels throughout the regions that cemented her love for the desserts of the region. Chef Vicki reminisced about how on her first trip to Nice she had fallen in love with the region the moment she stepped off the train and the smell of fields of lavender and rosemary in bloom hit her. A sample of the famed calissons d’aix melon pastry inspired her to look at melon in a whole new light when making her desserts.
For the demo, she brought those flavors to life with Chocolate, Brandy and Almond Cake with Tahini Sabayon, Pan-Toasted Orange Semolina Cake with Anise, Orange and Vanilla Sauce and Yogurt Panna Cotta with Cantaloupe Jam. Though she admitted her desserts she made for the demo were not authentic, they used the flavor profiles common across the Mediterranean. She said, “I want the flavors to come through and stay focused,” noting that the desserts were relatively simple, but still designed to leave a lasting impression.