And now for the highly anticipated final installment of my interview with Chef Chantal Carter.
This is the second installment of my interview, which delves more into the makings of Chef Chantal Carter in a Q&A format. For the first installment, click here. The questions came from a group of mutual friends of ours on Facebook. I have taken screen shots of their questions and I’ve blocked out their names because I don’t want you going and stealing my FB friends. Ladies, thank you for all your help. Note: As Chantal was talking to me, I was taking writing feverishly, so the answers relayed here are paraphrases and not exact quotes.
Chantal: For advanced baking, you need a Silpat. A Silpat is a silicone baking mat that comes directly from France. It’s non-stick, so no burned bottoms. You can use it with everything from from cookies to candy to chocolate. You’ll also need a microplane. Microplanes are used on anything that calls for zest. It sprays essential oils and essence as opposed to peelers who carve off skin. Microplanes don’t leave big chunks of zest in your mouth, instead you get all the flavors.
Chantal: Beginning bakers all should have an ice cream scoop. Using an ice cream scoop for cookies and cupcakes makes sure every one of them is the same. You should have good baking sheets and a Kitchen Aid mixer is ideal. You should also have a good knife. Don’t buy those fancy knives they sell on TV like egg slicers. They’re all gimmicky and you don’t need them.
Chantal: I hated high school, but I loved art. When I graduated from high school, I had the choice to study art at a community college or at a 4-year college. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with my love of art. In my Southern hometown in North Carolina, my options were becoming an art teacher or a graphic designer. I didn’t want to do either. I knew I wanted to do something with art, but I wasn’t sure what. I didn’t like the restrictions of art shows. When I was introduced to the idea of culinary school, something just clicked. I got all As and Bs in culinary school, even in math. I flourished in culinary school. I really liked how they taught you the method of how to make a cake, but what you did with the method was up to you. I am very hands-on and in when I am in the kitchen, it all makes sense. I can have 5 things going at once, but my brain feels very calm in the kitchen. I love to start with all the ingredients and then end up with a beautiful thing that I have created. I do it because I love it and it makes me happy.
Chantal also mentioned her paternal grandmother when I asked her how she got started. She told me a lovely story about how she would spend summers with her Southern grandmother and how they spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She said her grandmother taught her how to score the bottoms of tomatoes and how to blanch them. She fondly recalls being mesmerized by the cover of a cookbook that featured a beautiful cake decorated with butter yellow fondant and white piping. As a child, she loved looking at the cover of that book. Chantal told me she also spent time cooking with her maternal grandmother, who is British. Together they would make mincemeat pies, which Chantal says are her favorite things ever. These fond childhood memories helped shaped who she became as a pastry chef, without herself or her grandmothers ever knowing it. Chantal tells me her grandmothers are very proud of her.
As I mentioned before, Chantal is now working at a new establishment where she’s kicking ass and taking names. Below are some pictures of her recent creations. When I have more details about the place, I’ll post pics and links here. A huge thank you to Chef Chantal Carter for agreeing to be interviewed for Cooktivism!