Yesterday we spoke with Pichet Ong about his new gig at Coppelia (207 West 14th Street, 212-858-5001). Today, he reveals more about his forthcoming cookbook and his favorite junk foods.
I hear you’re working on a second cookbook.
The original premise of the book was the use of sugar and salt in desserts. So the book encompasses everything from the use of salt itself to the use of vegetables, and features spices and savory techniques. But I want it to be accessible to everyone. My style is quite whimsical. I don’t believe there’s one way of doing something.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks?
Joy of Cooking, Fanny Farmer, and The Silver Spoon. I love classic books like those. Books by Julia Child or Marcella Hazan. Or anything that Rose Levy Beranbaum writes.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s book, A Tiger in the Kitchen. It’s a memoir of food and family.
What do you think is the biggest difference between a savory and culinary kitchen?
I think pastry chefs think in linear fashions. One step, next step. The creative process is also like that. It’s methodical. That’s why we like recipes and we follow structure more than intuition, even though it’s still a combination of both.
What’s your favorite dessert of all time?
Lemon meringue pie or key lime pie. I like citrus and cream. To me, that’s the ultimate mouthfeel. How it feels is the most important flavor. Mouthfeel is also why I like to add a pinch of salt to my dishes — it makes the mouth watery and open to taste.
Do you eat junk food?
A lot. My favorite of all time are Maltesers. They’re not American but you can get them imported. They have a different quality than Whoppers. I also love Kit Kat and potato chips. Anything from Lay’s to Cape Cod. I like Taro Chips a lot, but that’s going into higher-end junk food. I have a pint of ice cream every day beyond what I have in the kitchen. I have some in the morning and I have a little bit before bed. Häagen-Dazs is my favorite brand: strawberry or rum raisin. But I’m not a big fan of cookie dough, and not vanilla when I’m eating it alone.