A few months back, Chicago Magazine named Mindy Segal Pastry Chef of the Year. That award follows dozens of others, including one from the James Beard Foundation, which named her the country’s Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2012. Her Chicago restaurant, HotChocolate, is an urban café that showcases her mastery of temperature, texture and taste. This she does not only with pastry, but with savory menu items as well. She’s been at it for 25-plus years, and she’s at the top of her game.
1. Salt. I’m in love with it and all its different types. It helps to bring out the flavors and enhance the pastry. For example, in chocolate chip cookies, I use a combination of Murray River salt and kosher salt because I want to taste the salt but not have the harshness of all kosher salt. Murray River salt is more delicate and part kosher, so the combination brings out the flavor in a great way.
2. Bourbon & Cider. My best friend Heather turned me on to this one, and I’m hooked. After a long day of work, I love the refreshing flavor of bourbon and cider over crushed ice; it certainly takes the edge off!
3. I basically live in v-neck t-shirts from Target, and I always put a letter emblem on them. We’ll put on a C (for cookie) or HC (for HotChocolate) in a cool Laverne & Shirley-like script. These shirts really become my chef’s coats.
4. What Katie Ate. It’s a foodie photography site from an Australian woman named Katie. I really like her style, and her unique approach to food and traveling is inspiring.
5. Yum Yum Coffee Cake. It’s a favorite recipe that comes from my mother Shirley. I make it all the time, and I’ll occasionally change it up a bit. I’ll add bananas to it or layer it. It’s my base coffee cake recipe. That way, my mom is a part of HotChocolate.