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Nominations for outstanding yet under-the-radar LA pastry chefs?

  • g

I'm curious...

Who's the best LA pastry chef that currently, for whatever reason, isn't getting the deserved kudos for their work either on this board, throughout the blogosphere, or in print?

Put down the name of the chef, the name of the restaurant, and your favorite dessert...let's see what we come up with...

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  1. Keiko Nojima of Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita is probably the most impressive of pastry chefs that I've come across. Everything about her shop, pastries, and beverages has been so well thought out. The attention to detail will amaze you. I haven't tried everything there, but everything that I have tried has left me amazed at how delicious and beautiful her works of art are. I think her place is probably most well known for her cream puffs, or Choux a la Creme, and Choux aux Sesames. But the Gateau Fraise, Gateau Orange, Maccha Roll, Pomme Pomme, Mont Blanc, and Chateau Chantilly are incredible as well. A small sense of guilt runs through me when I contemplate sinking a fork into these masterpieces, but alas, to do so is to acknowledge Keiko's deft ability to create some of the most irresistable pastries.

    1. Chocolate souffle at La Cachette.

      Dunno the name of the chef ...

      1. I must say, as a South Bay guy, I have never heard of Patisserie chantilly...where in Lomita is it??? I must try it

        4 Replies
        1. re: nyfoodjoe

          It's in a strip mall on Lomita and Pennsylvania (which is between Crenshaw and Narbonne). I don't know their hours but I usually hit them on the weekend.

          Most of Keiko's creations aren't overly sweet. IMHO, the balance between taste, texture and sweetness is always just right. If you're planning on getting the cream puffs, plan on at least an extra ten minutes, as they don't make them until you order them - this ensures a great puff that isn't soggy. The coffee is great - it's more like half-way between an espresso and a cafe americano with a nice crema on top. You might want to order it along with the cream puffs, and a pastry to have while you're waiting. If you order the puffs to go, please don't plan on letting them sit for any longer than a few hours or their efforts will be all for not.

          As far as all of the other pastries and cookies, if it sounds good to you, then it probably is. One truly gets the feeling that when Keiko sets out to make any of these items, that she has really set her mind to making it the best that she possibly can. I hope you get a chance to drop by soon and give us your opinion!

          1. re: bulavinaka

            If one likes cream puffs, these beat Beard Papa any day of the week.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              After having Chantilly's, Beard Papa just won't do... The last time we went to Beard Papa was after dinner across the street at Kinchan's... my kids each had one, as well as my wife. I passed out of respect to Chantilly. While they ate their "cream puffs", I kept waxing sentimental about the puffs at Chantilly. As a result, everyone ventually stopped eating their cream puffs and we were all in agreement that there is no other cream puff other than Chantilly's.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Keiko Nojima @ Patisserie Chantilly all the way.

                I've tried every single dessert they offer....can't say which one is my favorite, as I loved them all :) Mont Blanc (MOST of my Japanese friends have said her Mont Blanc is better than those in Tokyo!), Chateau Chantilly, the new Strawberry Parfait, Choux aux Sesames....bulavinaka's post at the top says it all!

        2. Debra King, CAKEWALK. Cardamom cake with pistachio mousse and vanilla buttercream. Not too sweet and a great combination of flavors not normally found around town.

          1 Reply
          1. re: joejoe

            Where is this place? Cardamom cake sounds amazing. I want some NOW.

          2. I'm sure that if by any chance you're writing an article based on Chowhound recommendations, you'll remember the credit Chowhound!

            1. FRANCISCO LOZANO, pastry chef at Ocean and Vine at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica.

              My favorites are the single vineyard chocolate trio:
              valrhona’s grand cru: caraibe warm
              chocolate cake, guanaja tart,
              manjari brulee / 12

              He also makes seasonal desserts, like in fall, with a pumpkin dish of pumpkin souffle, pumpkin/pecan tart, pumpkin brulee, and the hottest pumpkin croquette-like ball with goat cheese and pumpkin inside..

              The rest of the dessert menu can be found here:

              I also love the dessert sampler at Whist at the Viceroy. Kimberly Seeley is the pastry chef.

              1. craig strong at the RITZ-CARLTON dining room is the executive chef, but doesn't often get credit for doing his own desserts which are on par with his food, innovative, fresh, and delicious. you don't usually see a chef of this caliber doing his own pastry.

                1 Reply
                1. re: revets2

                  Yes, Craig Strong is definitely a culinary wizard. He's traveled and cooked all over the world, so his dishes have many international twists. I remember one distinct ice cream he concocted - black truffle! Delishh.

                2. I just had dinner at Roy's downtown, and the dessert Bento box was a thing of beauty. The Haupia cream puffs were especially a standout.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Jwsel

                    we really like their desserts. their pineapple upside down cake is superb. can you describe the haupia cream puff and what else was in the bento box?

                    1. re: revets2

                      The haupia cream puff was a very flakey pastry (top and bottom), sandwiched around cream. The cream had a slight flavor from cocounut, but was not heavy. It was served under a great caramel sauce. This was a regular dessert item, but I was nervous because: (1) I don't love coconut; and (2) it sounded a lot like profiteroles, which often disappoint me because the pastry is too dense, the sauce (usualy chocolate) tastes like Hershey's, and the custard or cream are tasteless. Roy's had none of those problems. The full order comes with carmelized bananas, but I don't think that was part of the bento box serving.

                      The other items I can remember being in the bento box last night (it changes daily) were: (1) a chocolate pot de creme (I loved the creamy mousse) with pistachio biscotti (my friend loved it) and a thin wafer shaped like a palm tree (mine again); (2) a small tart-shaped item that had the texture of bread pudding with different fruits; (3) a green tea mochi with a very loose mochi wrapper; (4) a dense chocolate brownie (really great) with vanilla ice cream and that same decadent caramel sauce; and (5) fresh fruit -- raspberries, cut-up pineapple and cut-up mango (almost a salsa) -- and sugar cookies to be dipped in a sweet and tangy mango-pineapple sauce.

                      Forgot to mention. The bento box was $13.

                  2. Another underrated "pastry" chef is Ken Namba at Kiriko. Most people know about the ice cream, but the other desserts I've had have been great. The kabocha pumpkin creme caramel that he often as is out-of-this world if you like pumpkin flavor. The texture is perfect and the flavores are awesome. It's not particularly sweet and doesn't use cinnamon like so many pumpkin desserts.

                    I also recently had a green tea creme brulee that was fantastic. I feared it would be very bitter because they use real green tea, but the sweetness of the brulee counteracted the bitterness, so it was neither too sweet nor too bitter. The tea flavor was very subtle.

                    And then there are the ice creams, but I'm not sure people consider that the role of a pastry chef.

                    1. This pastry chef isn't at a restaurant, but he makes fantastic french pastries and other desserts, and no one I know has heard of him, which is a shame. The chef is Jean-Louis Kippelen, and his pastry shop is called Caprice Pastries. It's on Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. I love everything he makes, but his creme brulee is wonderful, as is anything made with chocolate (it's that wonderful kind of chocolate that isn't overly sweet).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: L.A.Hound

                        Jean-Louis has been mentioned before - maybe by you, and I know I have... He is another one of those pastry chefs that's been under the radar. I truly enjoy his pastries as well, but what sets him apart from others is his cordial and fun attitude towards all that walk into his shop. I've mentioned before that he is like the little devil that appears on your shoulder in a puff of smoke - and entices you with tray upon tray of little bite-sized pastries of all sorts. You can tell he enjoys what he does!

                      2. I have a patissiere that I ALWAYS go to when I'm in the mood for not-so-sweet sweets. Amandine on Wilshire blvd. and Bundy. The owner is Japanese but trained in France. I would strongly suggest trying their strawberry moose pie, their killer cheesecake (honestly, its one of the best i've ever had), or their fruit tart. Try their quiche too. YUMYUM!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: onigiriyumyum

                          Been meaning to try this place, but the few times I have been in that end of town was on mondays... I'll have to look up their hours... thanks

                        2. Far and away the best part of my recent meal at Water Grill was the desserts...My date and I thought that Koa Duncan is doing just about the best job with desserts that we've tried at restaurants in LA.

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: chica

                              i saw her at the café at Scharffenberger in Berkeley. don't know if she was a visiting chef or if she's permanent.

                          1. Danielle Keene used to do some sublime desserts at Blair's in Silver Lake, and is now doing similar wonderfulness at Wilshire in Santa Monica.