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Grill 23 on Berkeley Street in Boston’s Back Bay describes itself as; “Brandt family beef, New England seafood, seasonal produce, decadent desserts, a world-class wine list, outstanding service and warm hospitality. A truly American experience.” J.N. Kidds checked in with Grill 23 Pastry Chef, Valerie Nin.
Valerie grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a kid, she spent a lot of time in her grandparents’ restaurant. She remembers she once baked a cake by herself for an extra credit math project. She had so much fun on that project that she decided thereafter she’d like to be a baker.
Nin’s first kitchen job was in a small restaurant in Cincinnati working in the salad and dessert pantry. After high school, Nin went to Johnson & Wales and received an Associates Degree in Pastry. She then enrolled in a Business program where she received her Bachelor’s degree. She then began working in several Boston restaurants, starting as a cook and working her way up to pastry sous chef.
Nin was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go to Singapore and work for a restaurant group specializing in Western food. She was hired to centralize their pastry and dessert operations from five restaurants into one location. Nin returned to the Boston area and worked at several restaurants before finding her way to Grill 23.
Nin is thrilled with the talented team that she gets to work with at Grill 23, and she is making the kinds of pastries that inspire her creativity. Like their famous Coconut Cake. This beauty starts with six layers of cake and five layers of filling. It is served with pineapple sherbet and topped with coconut dulce de leche.
Other impossible-to-resist desserts Nin has developed include Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, Valrhona Chocolate Layer Cake, and Bread Pudding with Chocolate Ice Cream and Peanut Butter Creme Anglaise. Nin recommends ordering seasonal specials when the products are at their flavorful best.
We asked Chef Nin if food trends have affected the way she has baked over the years. She noted recent gluten free trends have pushed restaurant to provide delicious and creative gluten free options. In a weight conscious world pastry chefs are challenged to delight the palates of customers with less sugar. Grill 23 offers a “small plate” dessert for people who don’t want to eat too much. Or customers can opt for an Assorted Chocolate Truffle dessert which give that perfect bite of chocolate without the bulk to end a meal. Today’s customers can still enjoy sweets with an eye on moderation and Grill 23 Chefs are more than happy to accommodate them.
J.N. Kidds is proud to serve Grill 23, and apparently the feeling is mutual. According to Nin, she remembers a time when she ran out of flour completely and put in a panicked call to the J.N. Kidds rep. This is pretty much a disaster scenario for any pastry chef. JN Kidds knows life isn’t perfect so a sales associate promptly got in her car and drove a bag of flour to the restaurant to save the day. We love that story and will have plenty more in future blogs.
JN Kidds has been making kitchens better for Chefs in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, North Shore, South Shore, Cape & Islands, and all surrounding areas of Massachusetts for over 24 years. We specialize in finding the best chocolates, oils, vinegars, flours, spices, extracts, purees and many other products to satisfy our customers. We deliver five days a week and take pride in providing exceptional customer service.