A Miami pastry chef ditched everything to master Japanese desserts

This Florida native almost became a marine biologist. Then he decided to take a bite out of a sweeter life. FELIPE CUEVAS

Pastry Chef Ross Evans was highlighted as one of five Miami restaurant all-stars by the team at INDULGE, who would choose this bunch — a chef, pastry chef, general manager, sommelier and hostess — to lead their fantasy Café INDULGE. Get a glimpse inside their creative minds.

Read a Q&A with Evans, a true lover of chocolate:

CURRENT JOB

Executive Pastry Chef at Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 8

IF I DIDN’T WORK IN RESTAURANTS…

“I would probably be in the ocean. I was a marine biology major at University of South Florida before I switched to culinary school.”

MY TYPICAL DAY

“At 9 a.m. I feed the animals. I’ve got Marley, a pixie-bob cat who is 6. And Holly, an American bulldog. She’s 8 and she’s a sleeper.

“By noon I’m at work and making coffee. I’ll look over the day’s prep and place food orders for the next day from our purveyors. I’ll prep that night’s desserts until about 4:30. We’ll check everyone’s stations, and I try to remember to take five minutes to eat something.

“Service starts at 5:30. Through service we’re coming up with new dishes for omakase tasting menus, we’re developing menus, and we’re testing new techniques and recipes. By 11 p.m. service is wrapping up, and we’ll break down and clean our stations. At 12:30 a.m. I clock out the line cooks. At 1 a.m., I send a nightly recap email, drive home and do it again the next day.”

THE MOMENT I KNEW I WANTED TO BE A PASTRY CHEF

“My winter break from USF in 2008. I drove back home to High Springs, and when I walked in the door, my mom was pulling a pumpkin cheesecake out of the oven. She asked me to help her unmold the cheesecake, and I cracked it. I made her a promise that it would never happen again. And here I am.”

GO-TO DRINK?

“An Arnold Palmer with fresh-squeezed lemons. That’s what I drink during and after work. After being on your feet all day, nothing feels better than rehydrating with iced tea and lemonade.”

ON GLUTEN-FREE, NUT ALLERGIES AND OTHER DIETARY RESTRICTIONS

“Things like that make me more aware as a pastry chef and cause me to really look at how I compose dishes. I have to make sure we have desserts that are approachable and safe for anybody. Being aware of such restrictions pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to be more creative.”

I JUDGE WHETHER IT’S BEEN A GOOD DAY BASED ON… 

“The mood of Marley and Holly when I get home. They’re always happy to see me — so every day is a good day.”

FAVORITE INGREDIENT TO COOK WITH

“Chocolate. Endless possibilities. I can create anything with chocolate — cake, mousse, custard, bon bon, showpieces and more. Chocolate is one of the most versatile ingredients out there.”

Ross Evans says chocolate is the most versatile ingredient he works with.

BUT JAPANESE DESSERTS — NOT SO CHOCOLATEY

“Before opening Kuro, I had no experience with Japanese cuisine. I threw my knowledge of traditional desserts out the window, and I started learning the flavor profiles and textures upon which Japanese desserts are built. I have taken the techniques and methods learned over my years in the industry, and I’m using Japanese ingredients to see how far we can push the limits of new-style Japanese cuisine.”

FAVORITE DISH AT KURO

“Our black-sesame panna cotta: Kuro Goma Panna Cotta. That was an original from Kuro’s menu-development stages, and I haven’t been able to let go of it.”

SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND ABOUT RESTAURANT LIFE

“The hours. Most people don’t get the amount of time that goes into running a successful restaurant. Doing things right takes time, and there are not many people that can grasp the concept of working 60-70 hours a week with food.”

Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, One Seminole Way, Hollywood; 954-327-7625; seminolehardrockhollywood.com.

At SOBEWFF: Ross Evans will present at the Decadent Dessert Party hosted by Duff Goldman at the National Hotel on February 25; sobefest.com.

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