Meet Chef Lindsey Farr of Marc Forgione!
If you’ve ever had the chance to try any of Lindsey Farr’s desserts, and then had a conversation with her, you’d see the connection. Classy, with a twist of fun and whimsy, her treats are as delightful as her personality! This multifaceted chef can do it all, from savory to sweet, so read on to learn a little bit more! I had the chance to sit down with her and pick her brain on desserts, her favorite things about NYC, and what it takes to work at one of the leading restaurants in Manhattan, run by Iron Chef Marc Forgione.
H: So Why NYC?
L: Well, I’m from St. Louis, and I came here for culinary school. I moved here about three years ago, to start at ICC and it was supposed to be a temporary move, but it sucked me in. I love NYC. There something about the city that vibes with me, the energy, it feeds me (both literally and figuratively!) it pushes me, and there is a drive to be better. I love how you can stumble into something new on every corner. There is such a high caliber of talent here, the standards are so much higher, and my options feel limitless.
H: How did you end up at Marc Forgione?
L: Well, it’s sort of a funny story how I ended up with the pastry job. I actually got an internship at American Cut, his other restaurant around the corner. I was interning with pastry, and thought that maybe I wanted to go back to school. I really wanted to learn everything. The chefs, they told me, “we’ll teach you!” And I figured, why not? If it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to school! So I started at the bottom of the line learning knife work, learning it all, and started to work my way up. About a year later, including my intern, I was told I had sort of maxed out with all I could do there. They set me up with a trail at Forg. (Marc Forgione). I ended up trailing savory, and it was super intense. That wasn’t the background that I came from, I hadn’t gone to culinary school, and I think I was overwhelmed 100% of the time. But it was a fantastic experience.
One day after a few incidents happened with pastry, Chef Marc turned to me and said “you do pastry, right?” And I said yes….and as he left for his trip, he told me “fix it, and we will talk when I get back.”
So, I did. I had two people I was working with who didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Spanish. I was trying to learn Spanish, figure out this pastry (which, I hadn’t really done since my itern) and pretty much took it one day at a time and pushed myself!
H: Wow! So how did that work out?
L: Well, I’d say pretty well! There was a certain elegance and sophistication in the plating on the savory side. I wanted to pull that into the pastry side. I hired people with pastry degrees, my sous chef Abigail is lovely (H: May I point out, I agree!) and she’s been with me since almost day one. So yes, it was something I sort of fell back into! And then I realized I loved it. I’ve always loved it, but I thought I wanted to do savory. There’s just an intensity to it, and I thrive on that intensity, but pastry excites me. I think pastry, I dream pastry, and once I dipped my toe back into it, I was like, “Yes. I live here now.” I embraced it, and just ran with it!
H: So cool. So did this baking obsession start at a young age?
L: I mean, yes and no. When I was little I definitely thought I was going to be a ballerina. Until I realized I’d have to live off broccoli. Let’s face it. I love sweets, I’ve always loved sweets. My great grandmother was a baker, and I always baked with my mom. I started my food blog right after all the food blogging started to blow up. I was working in finance, and working on this blog, and logging so many hours, and I just started thinking, can I do this as an actual job? And not just blogging, but, the whole nine yards…and that led me to NY.
H: So what would say is your favorite NYC experience?
L: Besides landing the job I did? I think it’s just once you are in the industry, people treat you differently. It’s like a little club. Anywhere you go in the city, they find out you’re a pastry chef and they pull out all the stops. You may see a side of their menu that wouldn’t necessarily be available. I mean, it also helps that my boyfriend is in the industry as well. (sidenote: He is the chef at Root and Bone, in the East Village!)
This one instance, we went to dinner and did a full tasting. Wine… and not just ONE glass of wine, but three, PER course, and it was just outstanding. We get to dessert, and I think they brought us EVERY dessert on the menu. It was so great, and I feel like it is the industry’s way of giving you a little hug. Like, we’re all in this together. It’s a GREAT hug.
H: That sounds fantastic. Maybe I’ll become a pastry chef! So what is your favorite thing to make?
L: Well, it really depends on the event or circumstances. I get into obsessions. I’ll go crazy with doughnuts, and I’ll make doughnuts all day and night for a month. And then i want nothing to do with them. But I love bread. I’m obsessed with making breads. And if I am stressed, my go to is chocolate chip cookies. If I bring over chocolate chip cookies, you should probably ask if i need to go have a drink and talk.
H: What do you like to eat when going out? Or what desserts do you tend to go for? Obviously, other than yours!
L: When I do have time, or if I am ordering in, I tend to go for Thai, or Indian, or something that I might not necessarily be able to make myself. If my boyfriend and I go out, we tend to head to one of the villages, and will stop someplace for a drink, here for a snack, there for a meal…we like to explore, discover new places we may not have noticed before. My favorite bake store is Huascar and co. Obsessed. His cupcakes? I cannot. I’m pretty sure there is a stack of his cookies in my freezer! I LOVE ice cream, unless it’s rolled. No thank you!
H: So what does the menu look like at Marc?
L: We have about five desserts, and three change seasonally. The chocolate chip cookies and s’mores were on there, but I completely redid the S’mores. It’s delicious. (H: Sidenote. It IS DELICIOUS) It has this graham cracker crust, and this whiskey dark chocolate ganache…toasted marshmallow….you just have to come in and try it. And then I always do a special, and a donut. I change that daily!
H: What are your most difficult ingredients to work, and or favorites?
I would say most difficult in terms of pastry would probably be lavender, maybe rose. Rose can be so beautiful when done right, but really awful when done wrong. Cardamom can also be tricky, sometimes they just fare better in savory dishes. However when used correctly, they can really bring that wow factor. My favorite? Probably chocolate and peanut butter. It’s just a stellar combination and I love to use those flavors for specials.
H: I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter?! So, if you weren’t a pastry chef, what would you like to be doing?
L: Media. I want to influence the next generation. You know, they always say dream small. That’s why I got back into my blog. I had a YouTube channel, and I’d like to get back into that as well. It’s just very time consuming, and hard to do by yourself. I’m not good at all the editing, so I definitely have to hire someone to do all that.
H: That’s fantastic and I can definitely see that working out well! Thanks SO much for sitting down and chatting today! It was such a pleasure!
Please feel free to leave comments below, and if you’d like to try any of Lindsey’s desserts, make a reservation at:
134 Reade St. (In Tribeca)
+1 (212) 941-9401
Lindseys Blog: http://americanheritagecooking.com/
Facebook:American Heritage Cooking