Salty Tart's Michelle Gayer: Chef Chat, part 2
Today we bring you part 2 of our interview with Michelle Gayer, chef-owner at the Salty Tart bakery in Minneapolis's Midtown Global Market. (Here's part 1.) Today Gayer talks about why she likes making pastries more than bread and her favorite dish on the current menu.
Why did you choose to open your own bakery in the Midtown Global Market?
It was a turnkey operation. It was already a bakery--it already had the ovens, the cases, the sheet pans, everything. All I had to do was walk in and change a couple things. I got loans from the city because it's the market. It made it super easy to just jump into. When you're surrounded by other small-business owners, you know, I'm not alone somewhere. It's a really good steppingstone.
How did you choose your staff?
I was teaching at Le Cordon Bleu for two years, so I was able to handpick everybody.
It's an amazing connection to still have, to be able to call the school and say I need a counter person, I need whatever. I didn't know that would happen when I started working there.
Do you have a preference between baking and making pastry?
Pastry chef. Bread is a whole other style of person. It takes a lot longer. Pastries are a little bit more instant gratification. Bread is like a day out.
What is the last cookbook you bought?
One of the last ones I bought was Tartine. Elizabeth Falkner, I just bought her book, too, Demolition Desserts.
What is your favorite dish on the menu?
Today it would have to be the nectarines with almond cream in puffed pastry. It's sexy as well. Fruity and crispy and sugary.
What has been your proudest moment as a chef?
The James Beard nomination. Ridiculous. So honored.
If you could put any dish on your menu, what would it be?
I do that every day. Everything you see there today, I guess. We're in the middle of a menu change because of the season change. We'll be doing a bacon caramel roll. Everyone's so hip to the whole bacon thing.
What has been your weirdest customer request?
Sometimes there's so many. People are always asking for crazy things. It's more like crazy comments and questions. People still don't know what Surly [the local beer, which Salty Tart uses in one of its cupcakes] is. Or people can't pronounce brioche or are scared about prosciutto. It's really part teacher, part chef.
What is your favorite thing to do when you're not in the kitchen?
It would have to be hang with my daughters.
Are your daughters interested in cooking?
Just the other day my daughter said, "I'm going to take over my mother's business." We have never talked about it. I said okay, 'cause your mom wants to retire at about 60. No, she doesn't have to. Whatever she wants to do.
What would you do for a living if you could not be a chef?
A stay-at-home mom who entertains.
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