An Interview with Chef Amy Hess
If you’re a follower of our blog here at PRINT, you’ve gotten to know Forager Meghan Boledovich very well. We’d like you to get to know all of our team, so this month we sat down with Pastry Chef Amy Hess to see what she loves about her work at PRINT.
Q: What made you want to become a chef? Was it a childhood dream, or did you come to it after another career?
A: I think I did always want to become a chef, but my father discouraged it because he had spent his young adult life working hard to get out of poverty. He pursued his PhD and had hopes that I would do the same. Cooking was a vocation to him. So I went to college and got a degree in French literature, which obviously led to… nowhere. Needless to say, by the time I was a “true adult” and responsible for my own income and destiny, I finally went to culinary school.
Q: What inspires you most when it comes to pastry?
A: I am savory trained, so I actually get inspired by savory dishes. As you know, my desserts aren’t particularly sweet and I think it’s because my brain works on a story level. I also get inspired by cocktails. There’s so many unique flavor profiles in the cocktail world right now. I often read a menu and riff off those flavors when designing desserts. I love a good combination of booze, herbs and fruit.
Q: What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself on your days off?
A: My favorite things to cook on my days off are absolutely savory! I do a lot of fermentation at home (kombucha, pickling and kimchi) and I love to do big hearty braises of meat. My favorite meal is a milk-braised pork shoulder with greens. I’m also a sucker for a big pot of onion soup on cold days and I typically will bake the bread that goes with it.
Q: What’s special about working in the PRINT kitchen?
A: What’s special about working at PRINT is Adam’s vision and his acceptance of my ideas as a chef. Generally, if I want to try something new, he’s on board. I really love that. Also, the ingredients. Simply the best ingredients I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.
Q: What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve worked with?
A: The most unusual ingredient I’ve worked with is sansho leaves, which are actually from the plant that produces szechuan peppercorns. It’s very fragrant but not spicy. I’ve used it in sorbets, ice creams and pastry creams and it pairs perfectly with summer fruits!
Q: What is your favorite dessert?
A: My favorite dessert is baklava. I think it’s divine. And it’s something I still have yet to make!
Q: What would you recommend to someone interested in a career in pastry?
A: For people interested in pastry as a career: stick it out. Understand that you won’t become a chef overnight – you have to pay your dues and working a line is part of becoming a great chef. It’s all about building up from the basics. Patience and repetition should be your focus.
Q: What about as a hobby?
A: As a hobby? Again, patience and repetition. If a recipe doesn’t work the first time, do it again. Make it work. Make it perfect.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on your day off?
A: Lastly, my favorite thing to do on my day off is cook and hang with my dog, Mo, a 14-year-old border collie mix who has been my best bud since she was a puppy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Pastry Chef Amy Hess’s journey to a culinary career! Stay tuned in the coming months as we introduce you to the rest of our team at PRINT.