By Nick BeJeaux
If you’ve had dessert at one of L’Auberge Casino’s restaurants recently, you’ve eaten a pastry approved by Patricia Nash, the Casino’s new Executive Pastry Chef.
From her shops located throughout the casino, Nash is overseeing all the creation of deserts for every restaurant in the Casino from 18 Steak, to The Stadium, and even PJ’s Coffee.
“It’s kind of like a commissary that outshoots pastries to each o the venues here,” she said of her shop. “I love it, I don’t think it’s stressful – it’s what I’m used to.”
Nash has been with the Casino for about two months so far, and works morning shifts. She wakes up, sets up the operations for the day, then rolls up her sleeves and gets her hands dirty.
“I’m mostly straightening up the shop – restructuring and reorganizing – and rescheduling to make it more productive for a 24-hour property,” she said. “I come in between 5 and 7 a.m. – I clean the coolers and storage just so I can see what’s on hand for my staff. There’s a lot of computer and paperwork, and of course I work in the shop.”
In addition to deserts on the menu, Nash also oversees special projects for banquets and special events. Birthdays, holidays, and giveaways – really anything that requires a cake – falls under her watchful eye.
“For the property owner, Mickey [Parenton], for his birthday it was also the three-year anniversary of the venue, so for that we made two six-tier cakes; they were very elaborate,” said Nash.
After a stint at the University of Delaware, Nash got her start in cooking at Culinary School where she pursued a degree in savory cooking. But she switched to sweets after being asked by Tom Vaccaro, Donald Trump’s executive pastry chef at his Trump Plaza Hotel, to come work for him.
“At first, I was hesitant because I was savory, but people were like ‘No, you go work for him,’” said Nash.
Nash is also competitor in the culinary world. Since 1999, Nash has competed as a pastry chef with the American Culinary Federation’s national team in competitions across the globe.
“They basically travel around the world and compete in cooking competitions,” she said. “You’re competing against about 30-40 countries in glass kitchens – they call it Restaurant of Nations. You have five hours to cook 110 portions from scratch, and customers would come buy your food, but mixed into them were really good judges.”
After years of competing, Nash moved into coaching but has since stepped away from that to focus on her career. At L’auberge, she’s known as the cookie monster due to her voracious sweet tooth and penchant for cookies – which she says she’ll never skip. Nash says that while many people skip dessert these days, that doesn’t discourage her.
“I’m completely the opposite – I’ll skip savory to indulge on sweet,” she said. “I think a lot of people with a sweet tooth have that European mentality of anything moderation. Over there, they will pay a huge amount of money for the finest tasting sweet. But in America, they want huge portions for the cheapest price – you just have to find a balance between the two. But as for me, I always look at the dessert menu first.”
When asked if society being more conscious about it’s waistline is hurting the world of dessert, Nash says that attitudes, and approaches to dessert, are changing.
“It depends on your clientele and where you’re at. I think you can train your customers to go in that direction. But you have to make it decadent enough to where they keep coming back for more.”