The game is tied and there are three seconds left on the clock. The field goal kicker, who has stayed out of the fray for most of the game, must now deliver. In a restaurant kitchen, pastry chefs are the field goal kickers. They are the lone wolves of the kitchen—part of the team, yet out of synch with the others. Ultimate success falls on their shoulders.
Allow us to introduce you to one of the heroes of the game, Kate Neumann, the pastry chef at mk in Chicago. Don't be fooled by those choir girl looks. Kate's tough. She has to be; mk has been shining brightly under the glaring lights of the media for years.
Neumann became mk's pastry chef two years ago, taking over the helm from Mindy Segal, one of the country's great dessert queens. Talk about pressure! mk was Neumann's first full-time gig after attending the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.
"There was no doubt that Kate was ready," says mk executive chef Todd Stein. "Her skill as a pastry chef is far beyond her years. In my opinion she's already among the elite pastry chefs in the U.S., and she's only 27." He's right. In May, Neumann was nominated for a French Culinary Institute Golden Scoop Award in the best chocolate dessert category. She was the only Chicago chef nominated.
She describes her style as classic American desserts for the modern American palate. Sounds serious, until you read her playful dessert menu. One Banana, Two Banana; What's Up Peanut Buttercup? and Cake & Shake capture both her skill and whimsy.
You'll have plenty of chances to check out this media darling in the months ahead. She'll be featured in Lucky and Domino magazines in the weeks ahead and she'll command a whopping eight pages in Food & Wine's November issue. With three seconds left, Kate kicks and scores.