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Chef Chat Part 2: Shuna Fish Lydon

Yesterday we left off our interview with New York Chef Shuna Fish Lydon's views on eating thoughtfully. Today we reveal more about her culinary world.

Eating Our Words: Have you had any recent discoveries in flavor and textures?

Shuna Fish Lydon: When I was in London, I had to rethink my entire approach to pastries and desserts. The palettes of the British are completely on the other end of the spectrum than Americans. First of all, the measurements are all metric. Celsius, liters, grams, etc. This recreates each recipe and demands a rethinking for the portions to be correct. On top of this, the butter is different, and even the flour.

EOW: Did you have to relearn baking essentially?

SFL: Essentially, yes. It is a different mindset across the Atlantic. Dryer, buttery pastries are prevalent. We like moist and sweet in the States, speaking generally. I think learning and accommodating both has helped my baking mature.

EOW: Have you noticed any other new dessert trends here?

SFL: Here in NYC, all the desserts have become the same. Where did all the options go? It's 4 degrees Celsius outside -- can I have something without ice cream? I like to see seasonality in produce, as well as textures and temperatures complementing the weather.

EOW: Are you bringing a new game to New York City with 10 Downing?

SFL: Yes, but I would not say I practice molecular gastronomy. I like to know that stuff but do not include it on my menu. I'm radical because I'm old-fashioned.

EOW: Anything that inspires you outside of work?

SFL: I love to find the beauty in purity, especially with food. One thing I miss from San Francisco is Blue Bottle Coffee. Artists paying detail to every aspect of their craft.

EOW: What food describes who Shuna is in the kitchen?

SFL: A ripe piece of fruit. I would definitely say I am a fruit-inspired pastry chef.

EOW: How do you feel about freezers?

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SFL: You cannot be a pastry chef if you do not love your freezer. Unless you are a pastry chef in Antarctica, of course!

EOW: Haha, nice! Any tricks for the pastry chef at home?

SFL: Absolutely. In fact, let's talk about freezers since we are on the subject. When making short (fat-based) dough it should be portioned out, frozen, then moved directly from the freezer into a hot oven. This helps maintain integrity with texture and shape.

Check back tomorrow as we explore one of Lydon's famous desserts.

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