When last we checked in with pastry chef Joy Williams, she was churning out cheddar cheese ice cream to go with apple pie at Russell's Smokehouse for her job as the dessert pro at Wednesday's Pie and other eateries under the Bonanno Restaurant Group. But she just landed a new gig as executive pastry chef for the entire TAG Restaurant Group, chef/restaurateur Troy Guard's stable of brands that includes Guard and Grace, Mister Tuna, Bubu, TAG Burger Bar, Los Chingones and the soon-to-open FNG.
"This is the biggest role I've had in my career," Williams says. "Guard and Grace is a big challenge right now, and we've also already made some changes at Mister Tuna."
Thanks to Guard's background in Pacific Rim cuisine, Williams says she's currently working more with tropical and Asian ingredients and flavors, including hibiscus, passion fruit, mango and coconut. But with fall weather in the air, she's also focusing on warming spices and even kabocha squash, which shows up twice on one of her new desserts — in a cake and in a bright-yellow sauce. In addition to new creations, Williams is also looking at ways to improve TAG standards, including working on what she calls "the healthiest chocolate chip cookie you'll ever eat" for Bubu, a gluten-free cookie supplemented with chia and flax seeds.
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The pastry chef is a Colorado native and Johnson & Wales University graduate who also studied at L'Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux, France, a rural town that Williams says provided an intense and immersive experience. Since then, she's worked in some of Colorado's top kitchens, including Charcoal, Frasca Food & Wine and ChoLon, where she headed the pastry program (which also included desserts at Cho77) under chef/owner Lon Symensma.
The addition of Williams comes on the heels of Tyler Wiard — a past Top Chef contestant and longtime Elway's chef — joining Guard's team as executive chef of Guard and Grace. “She has such a thoughtful way of doing things," Guard said of Williams in a statement. "Every flavor has a place; every ingredient has a purpose, and there’s a creativity there that makes her work so special. We’re looking forward to really seeing what she can do.”