CHEF CASEY DOODY
Growing up in Chicago, Casey had food and culture at her fingertips. Early on in her teen years she worked at her family's pizzeria where she learned how to run a restaurant. Casey attended the Art Institute of Dallas and The French pastry school in Chicago; obtaining degrees in baking and pastries, meticulously training under some of the best French pastry chefs in the world. While working in Chicago Casey staged at many fine dining restaurants and hotels. She found a niche in high volume production and became the Pastry Supervisor to Toni Roberts at the Wit Hotel. After many accomplishments in Chicago, Casey took over the pastry scene in Dallas, Texas where her desserts were all the craze. Casey was the Executive Pastry Chef for the Dallas Country Club. While living in Dallas, Casey created the first ever fried macaron selling it to a distributor in 2016. It was called the “pie-roon”. From the success of launching the fried macron Casey was featured on a weekly morning talk show every Friday for a Dallas hit radio show.
After five years in the Dallas food scene, Casey moved to New York to pursue the Michelin restaurant world. Chef Casey worked as Pastry Sous Chef under Richard Capizzi at Lincoln Ristorante in Manhattan. She moved to Chicago in 2020 and in November, Casey was named one of the specialty pastry chefs invited to cook at the Masters PGA tournament held in Augusta, Georgia 2020, 2021, 2022. Chef Casey Is now the Pastry Chef At Gibson’s Italia within the Gibsons Restaurant Group where she specializes in focaccia bread and seasonal Italian desserts.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
I grew up in my family’s pizzeria in Chicago. The restaurant business is in my blood. My mother was Betty Crocker at home, we always had homemade birthday cakes and as kids would make cookies with my dad on weekends. Dessert was always eaten after dinner. It’s something that brought us together in the kitchen or around the dinner table. When it was time to pick a career path in college I was a student in the fashion department at Columbia College and quickly learned I couldn't draw to save my life. I was not doing well in my fashion sketching classes and pivoted to making what I knew as a fun enjoyable hobby at home, baking, my new course. I remember sitting at home with my mom watching Giada on TV saying I want to be a pastry chef. Next plan of action, I was enrolled in the pastry program at the Art Institute and later The French Pastry School of Chicago. Pastry was the journey I took because I loved the joy it brought me from celebrating with people through desserts.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
I go back and forth between being inspired by nostalgia and what is modern/trendy. I never put something on a menu I wouldn’t order or eat. Dessert typically evokes a memory. I like to fuse together new techniques with texture and seasonality when being inspired.
Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
My time in New York was cut shorter than I anticipated with the pandemic, but my time spent at Lincoln Ristorante, mentored by Richard Capizzi was life changing. Chef Capizzi, if you ever read this: Thank you for all the lessons and knowledge I gained by working alongside you.
How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
Staffing issues in the beginning of the pandemic were extremely difficult. I had zero pastry cooks at one point in time for a few weeks then hired two amazing girls out of school who I’ve trained to be rockstars. My team has been with me for about 8 months and business is booming. From creating a focaccia program to 5 desserts that rotate seasonally on the menu, and now the business of private dining we are busy! Chicago is fully open without mandates in play. We have responded in a positive way and have made menu edits based on shortages through vendors.
What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the proudest of taking part in?
Cooking at the James Beard house in 2018 will always hold a special place in my heart. Segway now to 2022 I was thrilled to be apart of Chicago Chefs Cook for Ukraine in support of World Central Kitchen. At the Navy Pier event, half a million dollars was raised in efforts to feed Ukrainian refugees.
I am delighted to partner with Valrhona as the featured chef for the James Beard Media Awards taking place on June 11, 2022.
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
Organic and environmental claims have risen over the years. Innovation, productivity and maximizing profitability while lowering food waste is our future. Consumers are curious about ingredients. Food knowledge is more common now through scientific curiosity displayed in many food shows and documentaries released. Efficient food production and sustainability is more important now than ever in the baking industry. High quality convenience is on the rise and the want for clean eating by the consumer has shifted. The demand to offer convenience through a greater choice of vegan, gluten free, dairy free, less sugar “clean label” options is going to shape the future of our world as chefs.
What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
Everyday deserves a celebration! And you don’t need a reason to celebrate just to eat cake. The first and last bite of a meal consist of what can be produced by a pastry department – bread & dessert. The world of pastry is making a big comeback from Covid years. The want and need for pastry programs within hospitality groups is on the rise. The best part of my job is that I get to celebrate life’s best moments through dessert with people.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
Italian bakeries and Ice cream. As a kid, I remember the bakery boxes tied up with the ribbon on the kitchen countertop with the chocolate dipped Italian butter cookies by the dozens. Breakfast with my grandparents included coffee cake and danishes. I don’t think there was ever a time when a cheese filled Danish or braided pecan breakfast loaf wasn’t in the house. We would ride our bikes to rainbow cone in the summer on the weekends and enjoy ice cream on the patio, It was the epitome of a summer night.
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
Be yourself. Don’t be afraid, fear is an illusion. Build your team up with confidence and constructiveness. First and foremost we are all humans, we make mistakes, learn from them. Open up cookbooks and read them front to back like a book. As a chef we will always be students to this craft, never stop learning! Invest in continuing education classes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This industry is ever evolving, stay positive and open to change.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
The inside scoop on all things Valrhona, new releases, classes, the yearly calendar full of beautiful desserts, community of chefs and relationships formed, fun chefs dinners and demos. The Swag is a nice perk too! Love sporting my Cercle V beanie in the winter and wearing my Valrhona Aprons.. I’m like a walking billboard in the kitchen.
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
My first pastry job. I was working at theWit hotel, we used Valrhona chocolate. My relationship truly began with Valrhona in 2012 when I met Evan McAuslan Millar and Sarah Tibbets at the James Beard Awards. Jennifer Butler was a huge influence in my transition to working in New York. When I moved to New York City and was closer to the school, my relationship grew with others working for the company. I am forever grateful for the Valrhona Family and friendships made.
My family loves to use the nickname “Cassandra “, friends say Case or Doody my last name.
Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Celsius all day every day.
Favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
Pick a favorite?! Is that even possible, that’s so hard. I absolutely love the INSPIRATION line, my workhorse chocolate is the 68% Nyangbo, my favorite to eat would have to be 64% Manjari or 46% Bahibé.
Favorite flavor pairing with chocolate?
Coffee and hazelnut is always a favorite pairing of mine when using 35% Dulcey. I love pairing rosewater with the Raspberry INSPIRATION and my newer combo on the menu is Yuzu Inspiration with Norohy Madagascar Vanilla beans.
Coffee or Tea?
Hot Coffee, cold brew, iced lattes – love it all!! Mix in an espresso shot around 3pm before service.. I'm ready to tackle a busy night!
My day to day go to snack would have to be a No Cow plant based – dairy free protein bar or Cliff bar, I know sounds super delicious doesn’t it?! Ha, on a serious note, protein fuels my day and when tasting sweets all day long this makes snacking guilt free!
Favorite kitchen tool?
At all times within reach is a torch, tweezers and my sharpie – can’t live without these 3!
Who do you follow on social media?
Too many to name, but more important question is are you following me? @cndoody_
Favorite type of dessert to make?
To make layered entremets using Valrhona chocolate and Norohy vanilla beans! I love the sophistication of a layered dessert, its visually pleasing. To eat, I’m a simple gal, give me a warm chocolate chip cookie or a fudge-y brownie, I’m a happy camper!