Best Pastry Chef - 2010
Michelle Polzine of Range
There are two kinds of pastry chefs in this town: the ones who make Meyer lemon ices and rustic fold-over crostati in Cal-Med style, and those who go outside-the-box Baroque with spruce essence and chocolate-dipped pork rinds. Range's pastry chef, Michelle Polzine, walks a steady line between them. On paper, her desserts look as straightforward as any upstairs offerings at Chez Panisse. On the plate, they open up to reveal strange and subtle perfumes, or juxtapositions that strike you as obliquely awry by the second or third bite. The otherwise straight-up summer shortcake, say, with pale-green rose geranium cream that rushes over you like a handful of crushed strawberry leaves, or crisp crepes seeping traces of brown butter into grapefruit syrup spiked with pink peppercorns — both reveal Polzine to be a quiet overachiever.