David Guas is an accidental pastry chef. When the New Orleans native graduated from culinary school, he found a job at NOLA's Windsor Court Hotel as an apprentice to pastry chef Kurt Ebert.
It didn't take long for Guas to figure out that he had a knack for sweets. Soon after, he was running the show at D.C. Coast in Washington, D.C., where he turned out classic American desserts with a New Orleans twist, like buttermilk beignets and café au lait crème brûlée.
Now the motorcycle-driving, duck-hunting pastry chef has his own cookbook, DamGoodSweet. Each recipe is introduced with pronunciation tips (BEN-yayz, EEE-clairs, etc.), a short history ("King Cake is to Mardi Gras what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving") and Guas's personal recollections.
While chef Ebert was instrumental in developing Guas's pastry chops, the women in his family--Nana, Nanny, Aunt Boo and Great Aunt Patty--were his first inspiration. "Living in New Orleans," Guas writes, "I knew when summer was coming to an end when my Great Aunt Patty (aka "The GAP") pulled into my driveway. The sooner she showed, the quicker our favorite apple pie would be coming out of the oven."
Next year, Guas will open Bayou Bakery in the D.C. area. Until then, get your fill of homey deliciousness with this recipe for his Nana's Banana Bread (click here to download the recipe).
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