Dessert master Kriss Harvey brings unique flavor combinations, avant-garde techniques, and more than twenty years of experience to the pastry menus at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. He studied at the famed Cacao Barry Chocolate Academy near Philadelphia under the tutelage of Master Chocolatier Pascal Janvier and then went to Paris to study with legendary pastry chefs, Christophe Felder at the Hôtel de Crillon and MOF Emmanuel Ryon of École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil. He continued his international experience in Spain, working with Pastry Chef Oriol Balaguer at el Bulli and Oriol Balaguer Pastry. He also studied with MOF chocolatier and candy maker, Pierre Mirgalet. Kriss has had pastry positions at The Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C., NoMi in the Park Hyatt Chicago and at Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.
For a Valentine decadent dessert that will be forever remembered, Chef Kriss Harvey created beautiful heart masterpieces with his Chocolate Lovers Cake for Two and his Warhol inspired Chocolate Heart Bons Bons.
Q: As an established Executive Pastry Chef, what inspires you?
A: Chocolate and all that I can do with it. I can and do mix and match flavors with the chocolate as a base, an encasement or a topping. I continue to be inspired to present an unexpected delightful surprise for patrons’ palates when they take that first bite of chocolate with an added flavor or element. For example I use the finest vanilla from Bora Bora because its purity makes that big of a difference. This is why I love making bons bons so much. I can keep changing their interiors and their exterior whether dark, milk, bitter sweet or white. I source the purest of ingredients that can create profound flavors with chocolate. I use everything from lemon verbena to banana ganache and amazing blends of caramel.
Q: Why are you so drawn to chocolate?
A: To me, it is one of the greatest ingredients ever. It is a worldwide element and flavor that appeals to almost everyone and the results can be magical. I am intrigued by cocoa’s remarkable ancient history and how international cultures use it differently. We can all relate to it but still learn about it from each other. I love that chocolate unites us all. It makes the world a sweeter place.
Q: You are in charge of all of the dessert preparations at the SLS, from the various restaurants to the private events that are large and small. How do you do it?
A: For me it is all about embracing and respecting that opportunity to serve each and every guest and to always be proud of what we serve. I believe in mentoring and I encourage the team of seventeen that work for me to give it their all. I give to them and they give to me and we give to the guests together. When you enter my pastry world, I require full on dedication where you jump in all the way. With that kind of interest and commitment we are all on the same page and deliver stunning results that blow our patrons away. We are always striving above and beyond to create and deliver mouthwatering desserts of the utmost quality. I have a great team that I know love and respect what they do so it is a win-win situation for all of us.
Q: How did you come up with the Chocolate Lovers Cake two? And those phenomenal pieces of art heart bons bons?
A: I love Valentine’s Day. Come on what says love, romance and divine decadence better than chocolate cake and bons bons?! They are especially alluring when infused with the passion fruit center for the Lovers Cake and the various fruit and caramel fillings in the bons bons. They are idyllic indulgences!
Q: The bon bon bar is an SLS phenomenon. How did it come to be?
A: As a chocolatier, I think of chocolate as pieces of art so for me each bon bon is a seductive piece of art. I am an Andy Warhol fan and he loved interpretation within repetition and I share that philosophy. His work inspires me and my canvas is the bon bon. The bon bon bar became a unique showcase for our guests to pick and choose pieces. Suddenly, they wanted bons bons as gifts and memory boxes so we created the bons bons bar. I am always adding new flavors, shapes and colors to the chocolate choices.
Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference to the outcome of your various desserts?
A: Matfer products are the best. It amazes me that they manage to always offer better ones year after year. I am an equipment nerd and drool at the diverse items available in their catalog. I am a perfectionist and require the perfect tools to do what I do. There is no room for error and Matfer guarantees that for me. The elements are durable and innovative and the attention to detail for each piece is impressive whether it is their smallest spatula, super scraper, fantastic funnel or perfect pastry bags. I began my official pastry work training in France and was introduced to them then. I have been using their various items and dessert molds my entire career.
Q: What do you think of the Matfer’s Heart Cutters, Chocolate Heart Molds, Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Automatic Funnel, Strainer and Hemispherical Bowls?
A: They are all terrific. I love that the cutters are so easy to use and that the molds are seamless so there are no lines on the chocolate when you remove them. The fitting on the funnel is perfect so there is no dripping or leakage with that ideal rubber stopper. Everything is easy to use, tap out and clean.
Q: What is your favorite Matfer must-have tool?
Q: What do you consider the ultimate classic dessert?
A: Believe it or not, it is not chocolate! The ultimate classic dessert is the Canele de Bordeaux (French pastry with custard center). It was one of the first desserts I learned to make and it took me 15 years to make it perfectly. I’ve only taught 5 others to make it the way I do. I only make 12 every three days. That’s it. When they are gone they are gone. They seem to be very much in demand! I use Matfer’s Copper Canele molds to create the perfect Canele.
Q: And your favorite dessert to eat?
A: Canele de Bordeaux or a dark bitter chocolate bon-bon. I have a sweet tooth!
Q: Judith Olney, the renowned chef and author of the Joy of Chocolate said, ”Chocolate of course is the stuff of which fantasies are made. Rich, dark velvety smooth fantasies that envelop the senses and stir the passions. Chocolate is madness; chocolate is delight”. Do you agree?
A: Yes, yes, yes! Definitely! It baffles me when people don’t like chocolate! It is romantic. It is sexy. It is sensual. It is everything!! I see guests’ reactions all of the time either over dessert or over at our eye-catching bon bon bar. They become enamored, delighted and giddy. Those types of reactions always thrill me. It keeps me wanting to do more and create more for that ultimate extra-special dessert experience.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tools for the Taste:
As an inspirational chef, you can sink your heart into creating your own delectable Valentine Day’s Dessert when you use Matfer’s Chocolate Heart Molds, Heart Cutters, Rubber Spatulas, Scraper, Automatic Funnel, Strainer and Hemispherical Bowls.
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