We recently caught up with Tracy Dempsey, pastry chef and business owner, scooping samples of Tracy Dempsey Originals ice cream at The Phoenix Urban Market and Wine Bar. We got the scoop from the scooper.
Tracy Dempsey grew up traveling the world. Her geologist father did stints in Indonesia, Singapore and England. With a degree in French Language and Literature, Tracy's first career was as a language teacher, but her passions were crafting, cooking, and entertaining. Tracy went to work for Pat Christofolo at Santa Barbara Catering. Under Pat's tutelage and with Tracy's husband Chuck's encouragement to pursue her passions, she took the leap and attended Scottsdale Community College, adding a culinary degree to her formal education.
Tracy established herself in the pastry kitchen along side favorite independent restaurant Chef's James McDevitt, Greg Casale, Bernie Kantack, Nobuo Fukuda, and Payton Curry. In each establishment, her desserts reflected a collaborative effort with the chef to compliment their menu and food.
In June 2009, Tracy established Tracy Dempsey Originals, a retail and wholesale line of boutique confections. Tracy's dessert creations can be found at Crudo, the Phoenix Urban Market and Wine Bar, and this weekend she pairs with Seacat Gardens at The Scottsdale Farmers Market for "Dirt to Dessert." Seacat grows the ingredient and Tracy transforms it into dessert!
Culinary influences or inspirations?
The PBS shows and books in the eighties were the early influences, Julia Child, Martha Stewart, and Marcel DeSaulniers. The women in my family are good cooks, and now cooking with my husband. Inspiration comes from my senses, photos, pictures, smells and ingredients. I am an ingredient collector, out of control with finding and buying spices and random oils and vinegars to try. I check on-line at amazon.com and like to browse the shelves at Penzey's Spices, House of Rice, even Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx.
First "Ah-ha or Wow" Food Memory:
I was 11 years old, the Newton Circus market in Singapore. At the outdoor food stalls the satay stand, beef or chicken with hot chile and peanut sauce -I once ate 60 sticks of satay, and the vendor proposed to arrange marriage with his son so I could eat as much satay as I wanted, for the rest of my life! I also remember the juice stand, the vendor would toss and chop the fruit in the air, watermelon juice was the stand out.
Challenges of being female in a professional kitchen:
Most likely, the challenges are the same for women in any male dominated profession. Like any job you have, you gain respect as you prove your self. There was one kitchen where the attitude seemed to be: you don't belong here, hurry up and get your stuff done and get out. Some kitchens the staff hangs out after hours, I am married and my husband makes outrageous cocktails, so I hang out with him!
What's your food attitude?
I like to create dishes that are accessible and along with that deliver a little adventure. With my desserts, I take something recognizable, a trip down memory lane, and then add something to take you along a new path. I want to coax you along and then surprise you. Life is too short to eat the same thing every day.
Favorite tools in your kitchen:
A new infrared thermometer.
Spatulas and wooden spoons
You are having a dinner party, which culinary greats would you invite to cook and eat with?
Martha Stewart, Eric Ripert, Rick Bayless, Gayle Gand, Susur Lee and Anthony Bourdain to tell stories and prove he can still cook, that he hasn't gone soft.
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Tomorrow Tracy talks ice cream and shares an ice cream recipe from Tracy Dempsey Originals: Mint Chocolate Stracciatella.