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Stephanie Izard and Savory Dessert Profiles

created on: 09/08/10

Cookwork's Perspective


This installment of ‘savory flavor profiles’ may asst you to add some adventurous ingredients to your menu to balance your ‘safe options’. Creating “buzz” at the end of a meal may be a risk worth taking with your guests. How do you include new flavor profiles on your dessert menu? Share your thoughts below.

Stephanie Izard Interview

The urge to create stunning new dishes, push culinary boundaries, and give customers taste sensations unlike any they have had before drives every great chef.  Whether this drive leads chefs to prepare a classic dish with a twist or combine ingredients in unprecedented ways, a good chef is constantly looking for something new.  This applies to every course from ‘amuse-bouche’ to dessert.

Still, dessert is perhaps the course where a chef's creativity is noticed the most because customers tend to have an idea of what dessert is "supposed" to be.  When the dessert menu comes, diners expect to see cakes, ice creams, and other sweets, but that is changing.  Many chefs are starting to incorporate savory ingredients into their desserts, which not only opens up the final course to new flavor profiles, but should also change diner expectations.

One such person is Top Chef, ( winner Chef Stephanie Izard, who has just opened a small plates restaurant called Girl and the Goat.  She has long been a practitioner of mixing savory and sweet dessert elements.  Because she has been making them for so long, Stephanie adds "I do not think savory desserts are a trend or fad. It is how I have always made my desserts and how I will in the future."

Some of her desserts are quite remarkable.  For instance, she says, "I have a dessert on the menu that is sweet corn nougat with plum-apricot gastrique and bacon." 

It might be tempting to think that the bacon made an appearance in the dessert because of the recent bacon fad.  However, she explained, "I did not design the dish because I wanted something to put bacon on, rather I composed the dish to balance flavors well."  This should be comforting to chefs considering adding savory desserts to their menu because they should know how to balance a dish.  In fact, Chef Izard comments, "I balance flavors the same way with all dishes, not just dessert.  I like for every bite to play on every taste bud without being offensive." 

Therefore, when formulating non-traditional desserts, chefs shouldn't be too cute or use ingredients for their own sake.  If the flavor profiles are good and the dish's flavors meld well, the dessert should be a success. 

If chefs can master non-traditional desserts, they do have a number of different advantages over more classic dishes.  First, their non-traditional nature means that savory desserts generate more buzz.  Fried potato dumplings with candied eggplant, figs and honey yogurt, another Chef Izard creation, is going to be talked about more than "chocolate cake," even if it is really good chocolate cake.  In addition, savory ingredients can bring in unique flavors (like the smokiness & salt of bacon) and additional textures, like the crunch of vegetables.


Cookwork: Are savory desserts for every chef? 

Not necessarily.  Chefs will need to decide for themselves how many savory ingredients to add to their desserts so they can stay true to their style.  Plus, some customers will always want to eat within their comfort zone.  But in the mean time, many chefs including Chef Izard, will continue serving them because they like their flavors and because they have fun creating them.

Cookwork Recipes

created on: 09/10/10   Cajeta Caramel Sauce, BlogWellDone

created on: 09/20/10   Goat Cheese Pastry with Caramelized Star Anise & Carrots, BlogWellDone

created on: 09/08/10   Pan Roasted NY Strip w/ Salted Goat Caramel, Chef CWK Courtesy of Stephanie Izard


Written for Cookwork: Chris Perrin, BlogWellDone, food writter

Photo source: Stephanie Izard

The Girl and The Goat - 809 W Randolph St, Chicago IL, 60607  ·  (312) 492-6262  ·


christian watson

christian watson
Nov 28, 2010 09:33 CST

We have started to feature salted and bacon chocolate truffles for amenities for our guests...they are awesome.  Bacon drippings never tasted so good!

christian watson

christian watson
Sep 20, 2010 08:37 CDT

With fall coming there will be a shift in desserts, are you planning a return to savory commpliments with the colder season ahead?


Sep 18, 2010 11:30 CDT

We use to add savory to ice creams and the customers really took to them.  Strawberry Jalapeno, Vanilla Hot Sauce, & Strawberry Blue Cheese Balsamic.  Good Stuff!!!

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