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Rising Stars: Jennifer Yee

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Photo: Noah Fecks

By the very nature of their craft, pastry chefs are show-offs. After all, desserts are the crescendo of any great meal. Yet, there’s something admirable about those who demonstrate confident restraint when none is called for. This above point comes through when cutting into one of Jennifer Yee’s desserts at Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery in Manhattan. They are beautiful, yet precise. There is no unneeded flourish or embellishment. Visually, they appear simple, belying the tremendous technique behind their creation. Without the distraction, taste is everything, and Yee’s flavors are a revelation. Her sweet corn ice cream contains a startling fresh-picked quality, while the starring role of flash-roasted peaches in a melba is not diminished by supporting players. Yee’s precision is astonishing in light of her heavy burden, which includes curating sweets and cheeses for Andrew Carmellini’s menu, while simultaneously filling the display cases for the restaurant’s retail bakery. Yet her work ethic should not come as a surprise. Yee’s resolve was fertilized at London’s Le Cordon Bleu, and cultivated under the likes of Gordon Ramsay, David Carmichael, Charlie Palmer, April Bloomfield and Shaun Hergatt. For her efforts, Yee appeared on this year’s James Beard list for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Now that’s something to show off about.

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