Six Questions for Amanda Rockman
Rockman, one of the city’s top pastry chefs, announced about a week ago that she would leave her position with the Bristol and Balena for the many-restauranted Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. She told us about the move.
Dish: What’s behind the change?
Amanda Rockman: I turned 30 last year. [I started asking,] What do I want to do for my career and my personal life and to situate myself as I get older? [It was] time to see what other avenues there are.
D: Do you mean doing something other than pastry?
AR: No. I am 100 percent pastry. I do not dabble in savories. I kill plants. I can’t do starters. I do not have that green thumb sort of thing.
D: Have you worked with Lettuce before?
AR: This will be the third time. Ten years ago I worked at Tru. In 2005, I was on the opening team of L2O. I am very excited, and I plan on staying in Chicago. I will be going to L2O. I’m starting in March. I went to culinary school with [L2O’s head chef] Matthew Kirkley. With any pastry chef, your partner is the chef.
D: What desserts do you hate to leave behind?
AR: All of them. I’m really proud of what we accomplished at Balena. Balena gave me the capability to put my best foot forward. I was able to start a program, and the pastries are very present at Balena now.
D: What do you mean by “very present”?
AR: At some restaurants, like at the Bristol, something like 30 percent [of the customers] order dessert. At Balena, it’s like 50 percent.
D: Do you have a favorite dessert?
AR: At Balena, the grapefruit sorbet sundae. At the Bristol, the Basque cake is my favorite of all.
Photograph: Neil Burger