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Yesterday, we spoke with Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez on the opening of Print, the new restaurant in the Ink48 Hotel where she’s running the pastry kitchen while her husband, Charles Rodriguez, is in charge of the savory side. Today, we talk with Carlucci-Rodriguez about the pastry chef community, the contents of her refrigerator, and what it’s like to share an office with her husband.
A lot of pastry chefs don’t really eat dessert when they’re not working. Do you?
I don’t eat sweets. I mean, occasionally, yeah, if there’s ice cream in the house and my husband’s eating it I’ll definitely have some. And I still haven’t figured out how to get my favorite pastry chef to come over to cook for me.
Michael Laiskonis. He’s sort of untouchable.
Is the pastry community pretty tight-knit?
For awhile I wasn’t too sure anymore because I didn’t know any of the younger people, and you have to be around for awhile for people to know you. As I owned my own business, I got off the grid because I didn’t go out anymore. But yeah, absolutely [there’s a community]. It might be generational; I know everybody in my generation even if I don’t know them well.
Do pastry chefs hang out together at bars after work like savory chefs do?
Pastry chefs do that, too. But I have a kid now, so my hell-raising days of hanging out ’til four in the morning are probably over.
Where do you like to eat when you’re not working?
I would say Aldea and Bar Pitti — that’s a definite go-to. And Pearl for Monday lunch.
Why for Monday lunch?
I love the bartender. [Laughs] There you go; it’s a dead giveaway. We actually just moved to East Harlem from the East Village, so we also go to El Paso Taqueria on 103rd and Lexington.
Is there anywhere you like to go for Indian food?
Saravanaas. That’s the only place I go.
Do you and your husband cook at home?
We have a child, so we do. My husband’s always cooked at home — he likes to have a home-cooked meal even if I’m not doing it. We do a good cross-reference of Italian and Dominican — a little bit of rice and beans, pasta, lots of roasted meats.
What’s in your refrigerator?
Definitely Argyle Farms Greek yogurt, because that’s the new love of our life here at work and we brought it home. And ketchup, mayonnaise, and we always have a few cheeses as well — right now we’ve got an Idiazabal and parmesan. And we keep a lot of fruit in the house as well — we’ve got oranges, really nice red-skinned d’Anjous. And there’s always ice cream in our house. Right now we have coconut sorbet.
Are there any pastry trends you’d like to see more or less of?
I would love to see people working more with farm-to-table, and not doing just the kind of desserts that are homey but a little more high-end. We have our forager, and I know most people don’t have that luxury, but the stuff we get in is so exceptional. As for what I’d like to see less of, anything with a foam I think I’ve had enough of. If it’s done well, that’s one thing, but…
Do you understand why people are so crazy about cupcakes?
No, I don’t get it, I don’t understand it. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one person who’s doing it right, and that’s Chika [Tillman, of ChikaLicious and Dessert Club]. That’s a pastry chef’s cupcake.
The flavors are balanced and the size is correct. We actually serve her sorbet when we do our own room service.
Speaking of which, is working in a hotel restaurant really any different from working in a free-standing one?
Not really. I think one pleasant surprise for sure is that people have been calling down and complimenting the food. They understand that we’re not doing the typical room service affair. One guy ordered scallops, and the next day he stayed in to order them again. So that’s lovely.
What’s it been like so far to work with your husband?
Since I do pastry and he does savory we actually don’t see much of each other. It’s weird — we go home and we’re like, ‘you!’ And we leave at different times: He’ll leave two hours earlier or come back two hours later, or I will. So we’re in the same place at the same time except we’re too busy [to see each other]. Adam said when he was hiring us that he was not worried about us being husband and wife because we’d never see each other.
And then in addition to spending all of your time at the same restaurant, you’re busy raising a baby together. How do you balance all of that?
You just praise God you have a great babysitter. Or a grandparent.