I ate my way through a box of his creations recently - some kinda arty, most homey - and loved them. They are exactly what he says, the kind of pastries that transport you to childhood in a flash.
So far, you can find his pastries at MetroFresh, Savi Urban Market (Inman Park), the Albert, Market Across the Street, Park Grounds, Honey Bubble, and Kouzina Christos. Instead of Flowers is featuring his blackberry shortbread bars as their monthly dessert special. He will have a tent at the Atlanta Arts Festival in Piedmont Park next weekend. Look for a special dessert featured at Live and Dine in the Botanical Gardens and at Pastry Live.
He's also selling gluten-free pastries at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market...sort of: "I've done a few days there, like once a week, but it's really not my target market. Most people there don't care about it being gluten-free....And the market makes me set up in front of Sweet Auburn Bakery."
Flores is an articulate guy. I interviewed him via e-mail recently. I thought his comments were interesting enough to post the entire conversation:
Tell us about your new venture: how it works, why you decided to go into business for yourself. It takes a lot of balls to open a new business in this economy, doesn't it?
I spent many years running a small local business which was fulfilling and I enjoyed it immensely. After finishing pastry school at Art Institute of Atlanta and working at a local bakery, I knew that having my own bakery was something I wanted. Starting a business takes a lot of risk, time, and energy, but it is one of those things that you just have to do if you want it. It is sort of like trying to plan for a child or a vacation. There is no perfect time, you just have to do it.
Part of my love of baking is the chemistry and science behind it. Everything in cooking is based on ratios. It's just a matter of knowing the right ratio of ingredients to get the desired result.
Where have you worked in our city? How did you become a pastry chef, and what motivated you in the first place?
I have worked at West Egg Café and Bakeshop, and was the executive pastry chef at Nikolai's Roof downtown. My mother Judi and my grandmother Kay were my early inspirations in the culinary world when I was a child. I used to spend afternoons at home watching the "Great Chefs" series on TV and cooking for my family. I'm driven by passion, and I want to do something that I love and I am proud of.
Do you have any plans to open a brick-and-mortar bakery? Where do you do your baking now?
Yes, my plan is to have a physical location that is my own. Starting a business takes some patience and growth, so building a reputation and clientele is important first. I currently bake out of Shared Kitchens in Decatur across from the Dekalb Farmers Market. I can have clients come to pick up goods or do tastings when I'm in the kitchen. I love to have the face-to-face with my clients, it's part of the rewards of this bakery.
What are we missing in the city that you're hoping to provide?
Atlanta has many new up and coming locations that don't provide quality baked goods! There are some great bakeries in Atlanta but they are far outnumbered by the number of locations with potential customers. Many of the local restaurants don't have the funds or don't want to bring on a pastry chef. But having a solid dessert menu adds to the whole dining experience at a restaurant. I currently supply to local restaurants and coffee shops.
Do you make scones? I love them and Jonathan St. Hilaire's scones at Bakeshop were among the best I've ever eaten What is your personal favorite pastry?
I do make scones, and I have a great recipe that I adapted from Jonathan. I spent many months tweaking this recipe and making many variations of it until I got it the way I liked it. My favorite pastry to eat is anything with chocolate and peanut butter. My favorite pastries to make are breads and classic candies.
What about the "mini-dessert" trend. Do you make anything you'd consider part of that?
I do offer smaller versions of my products for special parties or occasions. Anything that is normal-sized in pastry can always be made into something smaller, it's just a matter of having the demand for it.
Cupcakes wear me out. Macarons are also getting old. I understand that both remain quite popular. Are you making either?
All of my cakes are convertible into cupcakes and I do macarons by special order, since they don't have a great shelf life.
What is it that you enjoy about making pastries?
I'm very tactile but I was never good at drawing or other art mediums. Food allows me to be creative, especially pastry. Also, I love hearing that people have enjoyed what I have made for them.
Several pastry chefs in the city, like Taria Camerino, are doing a lot of experimentation. Their pastries are often "postmodern" in the sense that they are classic but juxtaposed with unexpected flavors and textures. Is this something that interests you?
Most of my pastries are based on childhood food items that I loved and have a sense of nostalgia for me. I love to experiment and have fun with pastry, but at my core I want my food to taste awesome. I've made the gels and spheres and powders, etc., and they're all fun to create but there is a certain amount of flavor that can be compromised. At this time, I am focused on putting out my best recipes; they can always be manipulated later.
What about health? Lots of people regard pastries as unhealthy. And then there's the epidemic of celiac disease and gluten allergy. How do you feel about that? How about gluten-free pastries?
I think as with everything, moderation is the key. Pastries surely fit into a healthy lifestyle if consumed appropriately. I offer many gluten-free options on my menu, not necessarily because they were developed with that in mind; they just happen to not contain wheat flour and are delicious.
How do you avoid getting overweight yourself? In my experience, most pastry chefs are zaftig at best.
I like to exercise and I run on a regular basis, but I also love good food and sweets. I try to do this all in moderation, sometimes not perfectly, but I definitely do have a sweet tooth. I normally don't buy junk food and the sweets I do eat are always homemade.
Call Flores at Ratio Bakeshop, 404-295-6517, or visit his site to look over his work. You can also check out his Facebook page.
I'll second the comment on the gnudi. It was outstanding. Love the wine list, too…
Hey Bliss, you provide the prices for everything but the ramen.
Chateau de Saigon has a 10 page menu.
Andrew is my cousin & I am so happy for him & proud of him…
He is a Jerk off
He has two planes- both Cessnas (206 and 414). The internet is hard.