HELEN

While in my 20's I lived in Boston MA where I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. After graduating, I worked a number of jobs, but fell in love when I was working at a little neighborhood bakery called Bread & Butter.  Teaching me pastry basics and a great deal about bread cultures the owner became my first mentor--ever since bread baking has been an obsession of mine, and I knew that someday I wanted to open my own shop.

I've worked in several nationally-recognized bakeries and restaurants, including Clear Flour Bread in Brookline, MA, Flour Bakery & Cafe in Boston, MA and the Magnolia Grill in Durham NC.  While at Clear Flour I made the same five breads for two years and while frustrating this provided the best learning experience for me.  How four ingredients--flour, water, salt, and yeast--can yield such a variety of end results and how even the same formula behaves differently one day to the next still fascinates me.

My next step, working for Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery and Cafe, proved fortuitous as it was here that I learned what it meant to run a business.  Working here I saw a new model of bakery, one more akin to a restaurant with the bustle and excitement of breakfast, lunch, and dinner "rushes."  I tucked away memories of Joanne's best sellers, organizational systems, and ability to communicate with staff.

From Boston I moved to North Carolina at the urging of my uncle who runs Celebrity Dairy goat farm.  When he took me on cheese deliveries where I was able to peak in the back doors restaurants such as Crook's Corner, Bonne Soiree, Nana's, and Magnolia Grill, I decided this was the area for me.  So, after a stint in the pastry department at La Farm, I jumped on the opportunity to work with Ben and Karen Barker at Magnolia Grill as their new pastry chef.  In three years there I learned more than I can relate not only about pastry but also seasoning and flavor pairings, knife skills, breaking down cuts of meat, making pickles, procuring local produce...I could go on and on.  I tried to keep an eye on all that went on around me.

Each step has shaped my vision for Night Kitchen, and I hope that the influence of the wonderful chefs I worked for comes through in my offerings.