Chef Chat, Part 1: Susan Molzan and Liz Walsh of Petite Sweets
Susan Molzan tends to a hot pot of fudge.
Photo by Mandy Oaklander
Susan Molzan stirs a bowl of thick chocolate cooking over low heat in the back of Petite Sweets, a new bakery in Upper Kirby. Co-chef Liz Walsh sorts a tray of red velvet macarons. Like everything else at this miniature-minded bakery, which opened at the end of August, the kitchen is tiny -- with one cooler, one freezer, and one oven. But as Petite Sweets proves, small can be delicious.
EOW: How did you two start this? Did you start it together?
SM: Lee Ellis [owner of the BRC] just called me one day and asked me if I had any interest in doing a dessert concept with him, because I have Ruggles Cafe Bakery in the Village. I said, "I don't know, let me think about it." Then we just decided it was something we wanted to move forward with. We didn't want to compete with Ruggles Cafe Bakery, so nothing that we're doing here is anything we're doing there.
It's very different and it's kind of a new challenge for me. I was ready for something different and something new. I came up with the idea for the macarons and the cake balls and the cake pops and that sort of thing. We evolved from that. We added the mini cupcakes and the frozen custard. We're still evolving.
EOW: How did you two hook up?
SM: My daughter was actually working in a tanning salon, and was telling someone who came in there how I was going to open a shop. The girl said, "Well, I happen to have a friend who wants to get into that business."
EOW: And that was you, Liz?
LW: A very random connection, yes. But it all worked out.
EOW: Is this the first cooking job you've had?
LW: It is. I lived in New York until about a year ago, and I finished an avocational type class at the French culinary institute there. It was just 100 hours of pastry. We learned how to make macarons and some other things. I was working in advertising before, and I was tired of that. So I found Susan.
SM: But she's got a degree...
LW: (laughs) I have a master's degree in television production.
SM: She was a great find. We work really well together; we're really lucky. We do what we want to do. There's no menu written here. We don't have to have the same flavors everyday. We just have fun playing with it.
EOW: Can you tell me about making new flavors?
SM: Well, today we're making a new one because we found out anything with red velvet sells. I can't figure out why.
LW: I think it's that people go for the cream cheese icing.
SM: I don't know what it is; I didn't grow up in the South. But anyway, we're doing a red velvet macaron today. We did a pumpkin pie macaron that was new for the fall. We did a peanut butter and jelly cupcake, that was really fun. That turned out to be one of our bestsellers....if we have something we can use, we just kind of play with it.
EOW: What's your favorite part of this awesome job you have?
LW: Obviously getting to sample stuff! But I think also just coming up with new things...
SM: Yeah, it's fun to create something new and have somebody buy it and get excited about it. We're doing marshmallows which have not been a huge seller, but they're so much fun to do!
Join us tomorrow to talk fudge and food philosophy with the chefs of Petite Sweet's treats.
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