Who: Chef Sally Camacho
Current Gig: Pastry chef extraordinaire at Wolfgang Puck's WP24 in Downtown LA. Was recently a chef-testant on season two of "Top Chef: Just Desserts" (it premieres August 24). A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Camacho has worked at The Four Seasons, The Wynn Resort, and Bradley Ogden. If her numerous medals and prizes are any indication, Camacho went all the way to the finals on this season's "Top Chef: Just Desserts" -- not that she's letting anything slip.
Neighborhood: Downtown LA
What's your take on the Downtown LA "Renaissance"?
I was very fortunate to be part of the opening of the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles and I hope there is even more coming to Downtown LA. I think in the next 3-5 years, Downtown LA is just going to explode with new and exciting additions -- especially with the new NFL football field!
What's it like working for Wolfgang Puck?
Extremely interesting. He makes the industry interesting. Wolfgang Puck always has such a unique vision and he is successful for a reason! He is always pushing forward, creating new concepts and different restaurants. With Wolfgang Puck, you can experience an amazing steak house, fine-dining Asian cuisine and even internationally inspired concepts and dishes.
Chefs get a lot of press -- how about calling out some of your favorite pastry chefs?
Two of my favorite pastry chefs are Pierre Herme and Albert Adria. Both are very different in their take on pastry. Pierre is from France and very classic in his execution. Albert is from Spain and is modern and cutting-edge. He continuously pushes the boundaries of food in general.
Does LA have a sweet tooth?
I definitely think LA has a sweet tooth. I just hope Angelenos will switch from the cupcake direction -- there is more to pastry than cupcakes.
What are some of your favorite dessert menus around LA?
1. Spago, and I’m really not trying to be biased! Spago’s menu is very market driven and that is something that always resonates with me. LA gets the best fruits and produce, so I really appreciate when chefs thrive on that. These quality, local ingredients make everything taste better!
2. Osteria Mozza. Dahlia Narvaez’s take on desserts using market-fresh fruits is outstanding.
3. Red Medicine. Jordan Kahn’s approach is very creative and unique. His dishes are artistic, and you always have to go in to Red Medicine with an open mind.
How does LA inspire your flavors?
LA inspires my flavors because there is a big push for farmer’s markets and making farm-fresh ingredients available to the city. We are so fortunate to have Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in LA. I go every week with Chef Sherry Yard and the ingredients I find at the farmer’s market drive my menu a lot.
Season One of Top Chef: Just Desserts was drama-rama. What can we expect from this season?
This season surprisingly we got along really fricking well! There are definitely tiffs here and there but overall we got a long extremely well.
What do you like to make and eat when you're off the clock?
When I am off the clock, I want nothing to do with desserts! I don’t want to touch an ice cream base and I don’t want to look at a cookie. I love cooking savory foods using fresh seafood and noodles.
What's in your fridge right now?
A whole pecking duck! We did an event yesterday and I have one in my fridge. I also have lots of vegetables -- Chinese long beans, baby bok choy and ginger. Condiments -- every kind of soy sauce you can imagine! And calamansi.
What's your go-to drink, and where do you go in LA to get it?
Young coconut juice or coconut water. I usually buy it at 99 Ranch Asian market or sometimes at Whole Foods.
What do you love about LA?
I love the diversity of LA. There are people from everywhere here. Also, there are so many diverse neighborhoods and areas within LA. You can really do everything in and around Los Angeles -- go to the beach, camp, snowboard and eat amazing food.
What do you hate about LA?
I despise LA traffic -- it puts me in a bad mood. I wish we lived like the Jetsons where we could just use spaceships and jetpacks and not have to drive.