McLean Chef Turns His Focus to Puddings
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|Have you ever wanted to make a
flan or bake a chocolate layer cake, but felt daunted by the meticulous
measurements and detailed directions?
Maybe a class with pastry chef David Guas will help make the process less intimidating.
In September, Guas left as executive pastry chef of Passion Food Hospitality's four restaurants in the District (Acadiana, Ceiba, D.C. Coast and TenPenh) to focus on his consulting business, Damgoodsweet, which offers cooking classes, as well as other culinary services.
“My ultimate goal is to have people relax, and not get stressed out about baking,” Guas said in a recent interview. “I use simple formulas, but I give people options and variations.”
Guas teaches group classes out of Artisan Confections on Lee Highway in Arlington, but if a class is small enough, he holds the lesson in his McLean home.
In his most recent class, “P is 4 Puddings,” he taught participants how to make four different kinds of pudding: a stove-top bittersweet chocolate pudding, bread pudding, warm arborio-rice pudding and butterscotch custard pudding.
Coming up on Wednesday, Jan. 23, he will hold a “Sweetheart Specials” dessert class, which will center around aphrodisiacs and romantic desserts for Valentine's day.
The $75 classes follow a lecture/demonstration format, but the atmosphere is casual, and Guas is happy to let his students roll up their sleeves and get in on the cooking action. The classes are usually about two hours long, and participants get to taste the desserts throughout the lesson, as well as bring samples home.
If you want one-on-one time with the award-winning chef - Guas was named Pastry Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2004 - private classes also are available.
Adults aren't the only ones who can work with Guas. He whole-heartedly welcomes children to learn the art of pastry, and plans to offer child-friendly classes in the near future.
“When kids know where the food comes from, what the raw ingredients are, it has a major impact on their appetite,” he said. “There are many benefits. It helps them socially, helps them understand food.”
Guas said he has been experimenting with food and “going outside the directions of Betty Crocker” since he was about seven years old, growing up in New Orleans. And his three- and five-year-old sons are following suit.
Guas already has them in the kitchen learning the tricks of his trade. The two brothers have learned how to make southern-style biscuits so well that they critique their grandmother's biscuit-making skills when she comes to visit.
In addition to cooking classes, Guas uses his culinary expertise to develop menu concepts for restaurants (currently he is working with Lebanese Taverna to re-create its dessert menu), assist new restaurants with openings and cater parties and other special events.
Although leaving Passion Foods Hospitality to pursue his entrepreneurial goals with Damgoodsweet was a step out of Guas' comfort zone, the experience has been a positive one so far.
“From a spiritual aspect, it's the best thing that's happened to me,” he said.
No longer working 65-hour weeks, he has been able to spend more time with his sons, experiment in his home kitchen and develop plans to open his own bakery. He hopes the New Orleans-themed “Bayou Bakery” will be open in McLean by the end of this year.
For more information on Damgoodsweet and Chef Guas' classes, e-mail email@example.com.
Pastry chef David Guas is offering classes to take the mystery out of creating sumptuous desserts.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)