Meet Marissa Sertich, Honest Cooking’s own pastry master, and hear more about how her obsession for baked goods started.
By Kalle Bergman
Marissa Sertich is a New York based pastry cook and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She passionately documents her adventures of baking and eating her way through the fascinating (and sometimes nutty) underbelly of the American pie. Sertich’s writing has been featured in “La Papillote,” “EverydayFiction,” “The Culinarian.” and “Toque Magazine.”
When and how did your passion for food start?
I started baking around the age of eight because I wanted to eat more cookies. This simple motivation opened up a pandora’s box of experimentation and, to the chagrin of my parents’ waistlines, a never-ending supply of cookies until the day I left for college. Baking became my solution to everything – if I was happy, sad, stressed, or celebrating, I baked. After my undergrad and a short stint in law-school, I decided to to transform my hobby into my career. Since then, I’ve happily baked my way through Boston, Ohio, New York and Singapore. The preparation of food is not only a wonderful craft, but it is a beautiful piece of culture that brings people together.
Do you think you have a specific cooking style or philosophy?
Every style of cooking has something to offer and something, as cooks, that we can learn from. I don’t really have a particular philosophy of cooking, except that when you step into a professional kitchen, you better cook like you mean it. If there’s no passion, it almost always comes through in the final product.
What’s your favorite restaurant, and why?
One of my favorite bakeries, that is very dear to my heart, is Flour Bakery in Boston. Not only are the people who work there some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met, but they set the standard for quality high and make a killer brioche bun. The owner, Joanne Chang, is an archetypal roll-model for any young pastry cook or entrepreneur.
What’s your favorite holiday from a food perspective?
From a food perspective, I am very torn about holidays. I love hot cross buns at Easter, and gingerbread men at Christmas, but holidays are when professional kitchens go into high gear. The business is great, but I always welcome the calm of January.
What do you think or hope will be the next big food trend?
I hope that people continue to become more aware of their ingredients. It is not just about eating locally or organically, but eating knowledgeably. From chocolate to coffee, people are beginning to develop an awareness of food origin. Single origin producers and organic options have become available at most major grocery stores. There is also an increasing demand for more natural products without preservatives or chemicals. For the sake of deliciousness, I hope that this trend is not a fad and people continue demanding more information about where they food is coming from and how it is being produced. As cooks, we should be in constant pursuit of good flavor and quality ingredients are the foundation of a good meal.
What’s your best tip for anyone who wants to improve their cooking?
To be a better cook, you have to start eating consciously. When you go out to eat you need to understand what you’re eating – the different flavors, the ingredients, the preparation, and the presentation. If you approach food with curiosity and understand the components of what you like to eat, you will automatically become a better cook.