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PASTRY CHEFS 2004

Age: 30
Home Town:
Jacksonville, FL
Favorite Ingredient: anything unusual
Signature Dish: chocolate panna cotta, corn coulis, salted caramel popcorn
Mentor: Jean-Louis Palladin

As a young stagiaire with Pierre Hermé at Ladurée in Paris, wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason may not have seen a future that included making tea-smoked pineapple with tequila ice cream and chile gelée on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He set off on that tangent after opening Las Vegas' Napa with the late Jean-Louis Palladin and then working at Palladin, Union Pacific and Atlas in New York. Now he finds himself complementing the eclectic New American cuisine of wd-50 chef-owner Wylie Dufresne. Mason is an innovator who is not a fan of sugar and who doesn't leave a dessert on his menu for more than a couple of months. He's into Americana...yet anti-Americana. He's partial to vegetables and savory techniques (chocolate consommé anyone?) and a trip to New York's Greenmarket may inspire the unexpected, like his butternut squash sorbet. Always experimenting and developing another dish, this trendsetter keeps us wondering what's next.

Chocolate panna cotta, corn coulis,
salted caramel popcorn

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