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Yasmin Lozada-Hissom on what's ahead for Spuntino...and dessert in general

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The title of this week's review of Spuntinomay be "The Grill Next Door," but there's nothing common about co-owner Yasmin Lozada-Hissom's desserts. I caught up with the four-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist by e-mail, curious to see what the new season might mean both for Spuntino and for dessert trends in general. Here's a snippet of our exchange. See also:Will Spuntino turn into a true dining destination, or remain the grill next door? Westword: How much will desserts change with the fall menu?

Yasmin Lozada-Hissom: Aside from the salted caramel chocolate tart, all the rest of the menu will change to desserts that will feature fall ingredients such as apples, pears, cranberries and quince. Our gelato flavors will change as well.

What's next for dessert trends?

I've noticed that pastry chefs are looking to their own ethnic backgrounds for inspiration, creating desserts that feature ingredients familiar to their roots, many times along with local and seasonal products. I keep seeing the use of vegetables in desserts, as well as nostalgic and comforting desserts in updated reinterpretations.

What about the savory dessert trend. Where is that headed?

Although it's been a dessert culinary obsession in the past years, using ingredients usually associated with the savory pantry is really not a new practice, especially in other ethnic cuisines. In the case, for example, of salt in caramel, the influence came directly from France, particularly from Brittany, where salting caramel and baked goods is an ancient tradition.

In South America where I grew up, we always add salt to our dulce de leche (our own version of caramel), and my grandmother added a touch of salt and chile to her hot chocolate. In Asia, where desserts are preferred not too sweet, using savory ingredients such as red beans, taro root, sesame seeds and green tea is very common. I think that the savory-sweet combination is a very natural one and one that is part by now of our own cultural context, not a trend anymore. I love it when done with restraint, balance and harmony. How do you get your inspiration?

I believe our childhood is a tremendous source of inspiration for us pastry chefs. For me, desserts offer an element of nostalgia.... I grew up in Peru and in Venezuela, surrounded by great ingredients, unique and aromatic fruits that I always try to incorporate in my desserts. Brainstorming and traveling with my husband [chef and Spuntino co-owner John Broening] is always very stimulating and inspiring.


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