Chef Jeremy Garcia
Chef Jeremy Garcia has been in the industry for over fifteen years and is currently the Executive Pastry Chef for the Stein Collection in Park City, Utah, including the Forbes Five-Star rated Stein Eriksen Lodge, the Chateaux at Deer Valley, and the Stein Residences. The Stein Collection’s five restaurants, coffee shop, banquet offerings, weddings, hotel amenities and award-winning Sunday brunch keep him and his team busy throughout the year. A Colorado native, Chef Jeremy lived in numerous ski towns across the Rockies and grew to love the mountains and snow from a young age. His style is focused on transforming classic, old-world European recipes and flavor profiles into approachable desserts with modern ingredients and techniques. Throughout his tenure with the Stein Collection, his goal has always been to expand and develop the program and offerings, with an emphasis on artisanal offerings including viennoiserie, macarons and chocolate confections.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
I was a young savory cook with a side job as a baker for a wedding cake shop, and an opportunity popped up to do cakes & pastries for a small hotel. I enjoyed making desserts and wanted to learn more, so I bought a few pastry-specific books and started teaching myself what I needed to know.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
My wife and kids give me ideas, and I’m always thinking about ways to take interesting flavor combinations I experience or see in the world and apply them to a style that fits our hotel. I also love to learn and take inspiration from the rich and diverse cultures of our hotel staff – there are so many interesting flavor combinations to play around with, and we typically have more dessert ideas than ways to use them all!
Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
Chef Adam Thomas at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs was by far my biggest mentor, and his training and expectations helped push my career to where it is today. I had a good base of knowledge when I started working with him, but really needed someone with his experience and passion to show me what can be done when you really push and apply yourself.
How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
“Cautious optimism” is probably the best phrase I can think of. The last year has been challenging with staffing shortages, changing policies/guidelines, health concerns, supply issues... we are just thankful we get to do something we enjoy and that there continues to be a high demand for our skills and creations.
What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the most proud of taking part in?
The Park City School district has an amazing fundraiser called ‘Run with Ed’ they do every year, and me and my team members always like to join the fundraiser to get some exercise, sunshine and help support the local schools. We also do meal donations during the holidays for military families, and there are a number of fun banquet groups that come in for fundraising dinners every year, and we always enjoy going all-out with their desserts or displays to help however we can.
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
There has been a renewed focus over the last year on work & life balance and I hope we can find ways to improve some of those standards, for both line staff and management. I think Valrhona is doing some great work with dessert guidebooks and such that help new chefs implement dessert menus that are more manageable with the unique challenges we face today. I'm also excited to see where new technologies will take the world of pastry. You can go online and see amazing pastry creations from all over the world every day, and it's inspiring and a great motivator.
What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
Whenever my staff get stressed about errors or problems with recipes or events, I always remind them that we’re “just making cupcakes.” It could be seen as a pithy statement, but realistically, we’re here to make people happy and leave them with a great memory, and we have to do everything in our power to make that happen. I think our efforts at making positive changes locally and globally can be best focused on finding ways to do our jobs in ways that are healthy for the staff, less wasteful (in regard to both ingredients and supplies), and getting them involved in the local community.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
My grandfather would always buy me hard caramel candies – Werther’s Originals, specifically – and I still have a bowl of them on my desk to snack on. They’re a good reminder that you don’t always have to make something complicated to make it good, and also a reminder that food can be incredibly evocative of memories.
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
Pay attention, take notes, and understand what is being said. Listening is a good start, but you can’t learn and improve by just blindly following instructions. You have to truly understand why things are done a certain way - and how - to get anywhere in this industry.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
The thing I’m most excited about is the recipes and inspiration – there are so many useful tools provided for professionals that make my job easier and our offerings better, and myself and my team find the new recipes and formulas a great source of inspiration and energization.
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
I heard about Valrhona first when I was in culinary school in San Francisco, and I picked up a side job at a culinary supply store. They sold the bars there and I always wanted to try one, but never had the chance. It wasn’t until many years later that I got to try the chocolates in a professional setting, and right away I knew I would always push myself to run a kitchen where we could use just those chocolates. That’s where I’m at now, so that’s one goal done!
My sisters call me Jerky, and most of my fellow chefs just call me Garcia.
Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Celsius for chocolate and candies, Fahrenheit for baking.
Favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
For a long time, it was Jivara. Right now, it’s either the Yuzu Inspiration or Orelys.
If I want a dining experience, my wife and I will go wherever one of my friends is chef, and we just eat whatever they want to make and always have a great time. Otherwise we cook at home, with our sons.
Favorite flavor pairing with chocolate?
Fruits, usually – apricot, cherry, raspberry.
Go to snack?
Since we always have them fresh at work, probably a blueberry muffin.
Coffee or Tea?
Favorite kitchen tool?
Thermapen or a really sharp pair of scissors.
Who do you follow on social media?
Friends, family members – and a lot of hedgehog accounts. They provide needed levity.
Favorite type of dessert to make? To eat?
I love making profiteroles and fillings for them – crémeuxs, mousses, ganaches, etc. I can eat them all day, filled or not.