JESSICA CRAIG
pastry chef

I love working with TCHO because they work closely with their partner farmers and producers to make the highest quality chocolate possible and I really appreciate that.”

Fave TCHO Chocolate:
"The 81% stands out to me the most, the deeper dark chocolate trend is something that I love + inspires me to make desserts where I can control the level of chocolate that comes through."

3 Ingredients I Can't Live Without?
"Salt, vanilla, and all-spice."

Fave Kitchen Tool: 
"My favorite cooking tool is a welding torch. I like to caramelize food and set things on fire!"

ABOUT JESSICA CRAIG

Long Island native Jessica Craig is the pastry chef of Almond Restaurant. After graduating from NYIT with a Culinary Arts Degree and a BPS in Hospitality Management, Jessica dove right into pastry cook positions and gained invaluable hands-on experience. Pastry Chef Jessica Craig After working with Belgian Master Chef Steven de Bruyn at Garden City Hotel, Jessica honed her skills at various restaurants on Long Island before finding herself at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton. Jessica began as a Pastry Sous Chef in 2008, and ran the dessert program for the Honest Man Restaurant Group until 2013.

 

Jessica then went on to work for Altamarea Group, an international airline catering company, and Noho Hospitality with Locanda Verde Restaurant at the Greenwich Hotel. Excelling in the field and rising in ranks, Jessica became the Executive Pastry Chef at L’Artusi Restaurant in New York City in the beginning of 2017, where she oversaw the pastry program for Epicurean Group. Jessica has been featured in the Chefs and Champagne event with James Beard, been a guest on Communal Table Food & Wine Podcast with Kat Kinsman and One-Woman Kitchen with Rozanne Gold, was a contestant on Viceland’s Bong Appetite in Spring of 2019, and was a guest on the dessert episode of Food Network’s Chopped in Spring of 2020. Chef Craig brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Almond Restaurant family.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CHEF

What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

JESSICA: I feel like I have always had a love affair with sweets but it was when I was in high school when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. One of my sisters pointed out that I am always in the kitchen cooking, she suggested that I pursue a career in culinary arts. I started doing research on culinary arts and decided to enroll in culinary school with a focus on pastry.

What are some of your goals as a pastry chef?

JESSICA: I want to focus on my own business soon, I’m still figuring things out but I would like to be well known.

What would you like to be known for?

JESSICA: I would like to be known for my pastries and for being a kind human in my community.

What does being a kind human mean to you?

JESSICA: A kind human to me is someone who tries to live a positive life and tries to bring out positive results from people around them, I like to push people to do better. I also believe that being kind is a form of being helpful which is important to me.

Do you see yourself as being a mentor to your peers in the kitchen?

JESSICA: Yes, I have friends and a handful of people who look up to me. I work really hard at being a role model because it’s something I believe in but also don’t want to mess up so I try my best to make the best decisions possible. It makes me nervous but also proud.

What does your sister say about you now seeing you in a pastry position?

JESSICA: She is very proud of me and visits me at the restaurant that I work at. She has supported me so much in my career and is beyond proud. She’s my biggest cheerleader.

Do you find that your family is a part of your inspiration?

JESSICA: My family is a part of my inspiration and they make me feel really good about my accomplishments. My mom for example seems to be surprised by accomplishments when I show her my work published or the book that I have been featured in.

 You mentioned that you are in a book. What book are you mentioned in?

JESSICA: Toques in Black. It’s a book that was put together by Alan Batt. He approached me because he believed that African American chefs do not receive enough attention or notoriety. He approached me in the middle of last year and without hesitation, I said yes. I am super proud to be included in it and I’m glad that I made the cut.

 What is something that you are really proud of?

JESSICA: Mofad asked me to the dessert for their spring gala last year. A huge reason why it was a big accomplishment was because the director reached out to the owner by just dropping my name. I couldn’t believe I saw my name written in an email by him. They honored Quest Love and tons of other celebrities were there that I did not even know were at this event. It was an honor to have cooked for them.

Where do you find recipe inspiration?

JESSICA: Traveling, music, and art inspires me. The flavor combination of honey and chocolate was inspired from a recent trip that I took to Italy. I also enjoy going to art shows and always feel inspired to create right after.

Do you find that the pandemic has changed your pastry style at all?

JESSICA: I find myself baking more traditional recipes to give comfort to people during this time. If I’m making an apple pie, I’m not interested in adding a weird flavor, the world just needs to feel warm and cozy right now.

What are some of your biggest challenges as a pastry chef?

JESSICA: A big challenge is the way the pastry department is treated in the restaurant industry. The main focus is typically on the chef, the food, ambiance, etc. The pastry department has typically been an afterthought and overlooked even though the dessert course is the last impression when guests dine out so I make it a point to eat dessert first when I go out to eat to support my industry peers.

What are you interested in learning more about?

JESSICA: I am constantly learning and right now I am inspired to understand the different ranges of flavor that chocolate has to offer. The chocolate making process also intrigues me, however, I am still exploring what all of that means when it comes to the different types of ingredients that can be used to make chocolate. I just want to explore this industry and learn more!

My ideal chocolate flavor would be TCHO’s 54% Dark Milk that I would enjoy with toasted almonds and a sprinkle of rough sea salt would be perfect.

How did you get involved in the community refrigerators?

JESSICA: When the Bakers Against Racism campaign was going on, at the time I wanted to be involved but didn’t have the time for it. So, I got creative and found my own way to get involved that I felt like would be impactful. I found out about the community fridges through Instagram, then they started listing me as a vendor. It’s such a simple act of kindness, all I have to do is make something, pack it up, list the ingredients, put a date on it and drop it off. It’s that easy.

JESSICA'S RECIPES + CHEF DEMOS

CHOCOLATE PUDDING

INGREDIENTS
Chocolate Pudding

1 cup Milk
4 Gelatin Sheets (gold)
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 lbs TCHO 54% Dark Milk Chocolate
¼ tsp Salt

Caramel Topping
8 oz Sugar
2 oz Water
1 cup Cream
½ oz Butter
¼ tsp Salt
Splash of Vanilla

 

DIRECTIONS
Chocolate Pudding

  1. Place your gelatin sheets in a cup of cold water to bloom for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pot, heat the cream, and whisk in the bloomed gelatin sheets on medium heat until it starts to simmer.
  4. Pour the liquid over the chocolate and whisk together until smooth then pour the chocolate mixture into 8, 2in ramekins then place in the refrigerator to set.
  5. After fifteen minutes cover the pudding with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed against the surface and refrigerate until fully thickened, about 2 hour...

CHOCOLATE PUDDING

INGREDIENTS
Chocolate Pudding

1 cup Milk
4 Gelatin Sheets (gold)
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 lbs TCHO 54% Dark Milk Chocolate
¼ tsp Salt

Caramel Topping
8 oz Sugar
2 oz Water
1 cup Cream
½ oz Butter
¼ tsp Salt
Splash of Vanilla

 

DIRECTIONS
Chocolate Pudding

  1. Place your gelatin sheets in a cup of cold water to bloom for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Place the chocolate in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pot, heat the cream, and whisk in the bloomed gelatin sheets on medium heat until it starts to simmer.
  4. Pour the liquid over the chocolate and whisk together until smooth then pour the chocolate mixture into 8, 2in ramekins then place in the refrigerator to set.
  5. After fifteen minutes cover the pudding with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed against the surface and refrigerate until fully thickened, about 2 hour...

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE

INGREDIENTS
Chocolate Honey Cake
2 cups Sugar
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder
1½ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1½ cup Milk
½ tsp Vanilla
1 cup Hot Water

Chocolate Ganache
8 oz TCHO Bittersweet 66% Dark Chocolate
1 cup Honey
2 cup Cream
½ tsp Salt
Splash of Vanilla

 

DIRECTIONS
Chocolate Honey Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF and butter one,
    6-inch cake round.
  2. Mix together sugar, flour, TCHO Cocoa Powder, baking soda, salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
  3. Add eggs, milk, warm water, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely...

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE

INGREDIENTS
Chocolate Honey Cake
2 cups Sugar
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup TCHO Natural Cocoa Powder
1½ tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1½ cup Milk
½ tsp Vanilla
1 cup Hot Water

Chocolate Ganache
8 oz TCHO Bittersweet 66% Dark Chocolate
1 cup Honey
2 cup Cream
½ tsp Salt
Splash of Vanilla

 

DIRECTIONS
Chocolate Honey Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF and butter one,
    6-inch cake round.
  2. Mix together sugar, flour, TCHO Cocoa Powder, baking soda, salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
  3. Add eggs, milk, warm water, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely...

FIND JESSICA AT

Almond
Bridgehampton, NY

READY TO GET COOKING?
Choose your journey, find your TCHO below: