Blue Duck Tavern’s brand new pastry chef is creating quite a buzz in the city, with a dessert menu featuring unique concoctions like the caramelia Bavarian and rosemary olive oil cake with grapefruit. These are all from the creative culinary mind of Erin Reed, who joined Blue Duck this winter.
On Tap: How did this opportunity present itself? Why did you choose this position?
Erin Reed: I’ve known about Blue Duck Tavern for awhile, so when I saw this position available, it was a no-brainer. The concept of the restaurant really fits my style, and I feel like I understand what the team is trying to do here.
OT: Where were you previously?
ER: Previously, I was at DBGB in City Center for a short time. Before that, I was in Philadelphia with the Starr Restaurant Group as pastry chef at Buddakan. I also spent a couple years with the RW group. My first job in DC was as pastry sous chef at Marcel’s, and then I was promoted to pastry chef at Brabo, located in the Lorien Hotel in Old Town, Alexandria.
OT: What do you bring to Blue Duck’s dessert menu that didn’t previously exist?
ER: I’m really trying to bring a sense of nostalgia to the menu. I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’m really using Blue Duck Tavern’s Americana vibe as an opportunity to use a lot of my own personal influences and memories from my childhood in my desserts, which is something I’ve never really had the opportunity to do before.
OT: What was your creative process for coming up with Blue Duck’s current dessert menu?
ER: The current menu has a big Pennsylvania influence. I usually start with one source of inspiration and go from there. The caramelia Bavarian, for example, all started with the ice cream. I knew I wanted to feature the Cope’s corn ice cream on a dessert, so it was just about developing flavors and components to complement that.
OT: What are your two favorite desserts on the current menu?
ER: Current favorites are probably the caramelia Bavarian. Again, the Cope’s corn ice cream is pretty unique and really delicious, and the sage cream and fried sage that go with it just remind me of the holidays. The rosemary olive oil cake is another favorite. It’s just a really well-balanced dessert, not overly sweet, and the grapefruit is really refreshing.
OT: Will there be any major changes to the menu this spring?
ER: I’ll be changing the menu with the seasons, so four times a year. The spring menu is already outlined, and there are two new dishes I’m excited about showcasing. The first is a play on my mom’s rice pudding. It’s something she made all the time when I was growing up, and I just got the recipe from her. I’ll be trying it out with strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and green tea. The second is an interpretation of a banana fluffernutter sandwich. If you’ve never had one, it’s peanut butter, marshmallow fluff and sliced bananas on white bread, and it’s delicious! I’ll be reconstructing it with a frozen banana parfait, tempura fried marshmallows, toast cream and peanut butter powder.
OT: What is your favorite dessert to consume when you’re off the clock?
ER: I don’t really eat a ton of dessert, but when I do, I like the classics. I really like apple crisp, served cold, never warm.
Blue Duck Tavern: 1201 24th St. NW, DC; 202-419-6755; www.blueducktavern.com