Pastry Chefs Getting Their Just Desserts

An upcoming dessert promotion is a good deal for diners, but may be an even better deal for the pastry chefs responsible for the free sweets.

Bravo has partnered with OpenTable to offer free desserts at restaurants in 10metro areas -- Dallas included -- on September 15, the night its new show Top Chef: Just Desserts premieres. (The network's obviously given up on the concept of appointment viewing, since it's coaxing potential viewers out of the house during the show's airtime.) More than 30 Dallas area restaurants have signed on to provide a complimentary dessert for every two entrées ordered.

But in the current free-food-for-all, what's more interesting about the promo is that OpenTable's listing each restaurant's pastry chef on its reservations page. That unusual acknowledgment was applauded by Loft 610 pastry chef Kara Blair, who says diners often don't know who's making their custards and tortes.

"It's nice when you work in a place where they recognize you," says Blair, whose name is listed on Loft 610's regular menu. "I've been very lucky."

Top Chef: Just Desserts might help raise the stature of pastry chefs, although Blair concedes many restaurants now rely on their executive chefs to whip up something sweet. While complaining about the difficulties of making dessert has become a Top Chef cliché, two area eateries helmed by former contestants -- Brownstone and Go Fish Ocean Club -- list their chefs as pastry chef.

Blair says she knows and likes Casey Thompson's pastry work, but adds, "Usually chefs are more savory. Why not go ahead and hire a pastry chef?"

For the Bravo promo, Blair is planning to serve her white chocolate banana bread pudding.

"I hate to say it, but it's kind of my signature dessert," she says.

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