Culture

The Sweet Life of Natasha Pickowicz

To launch our global Women In Food series we asked NYC Pastry Chef Natasha Pickowicz about her passion for pastry, smashing gender roles and how she’s helping reshape restaurant culture in the wake of #MeToo.

By Angela Ledgerwood

Culture

To launch our global Women In Food series we asked NYC Pastry Chef Natasha Pickowicz about her passion for pastry, smashing gender roles and how she’s helping reshape restaurant culture in the wake of #MeToo.

By Angela Ledgerwood

Radically cool and kind is one way to describe NYC’s pastry wunderkind Natasha Pickowicz, the Executive Pastry Chef at the Matter House group of restaurants comprising of Estela, Flora Bar and Café Altro Paradiso. While Pickowicz is known for her outrageously-mourish sticky buns, perfectly tangy lemon tarts and other sweet sensations, she’s quickly becoming renowned as a talented food writer and community rabble-rouser. Earlier this year she organized a bake sale that raised $21,000 for Planned Parenthood and, to prove she’s always up for a challenge, she recently flew from Manhattan to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with precious cargo. That cargo was five layers of pistachio sponge cake – carefully packed in her suitcase – and part of a dear friend’s wedding cake that was later assembled with rosewater buttercream and decorated with foraged weeds and wildflowers plucked from the base of the mighty Grand Teton mountain range. When she’s not flying with sugar in her carry-on, Pickowicz is managing her team of pastry cooks, and challenging herself (and her boss, Chef Ignacio Matto) to create a truly progressive kitchen. Here, she examines how to change workplace culture from within whilst keep the magic of baking alive.

“I went to Cornell and majored in English Literature. I wrote for my college paper, the Cornell Daily Sun, and after graduation I became the Arts & Entertainment Editor of an alt-weekly paper called The Ithaca Times. I originally hoped to get my PhD in Ethnomusicology, but I was rejected from every program I applied to. In my desperation for work, I was hired as a baker at a small luncheonette called Dépanneur le Pick Up. They asked me if I had worked in a restaurant before. I lied and said that I had. Once I started learning about pastry and adapting to this completely different style of life, I found that I had no time to devote to writing. One of the most surprising (and beautiful!) aspects of my current life as a pastry chef is how I have been able to fold writing back into my practice — this time from the perspective of a chef, not as a critic or observer.”

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Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $7 a month.

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