Urban Farmer, Cleveland’s Steakhouse, Cleveland, OH
In The Kitchen With Kara: Mastering Macarons
As we have recently hosted Macaron Masterclass at Urban Farmer, we thought it would be a good time to get to know the Master behind our macarons, and all things pastry – Chef Kara Swortchek.
In case you missed hearing about it, or attending, Macaron Masterclass provided attendees the opportunity to join Chef Kara, at Urban Farmer, to learn the art of making French macaron shells and buttercream filling. The hands-on experience included assembling macarons, enjoying samples prepared by Chef Kara, and macarons to take home, as well. The first class was held February 24th and, due to popular demand, a second class was scheduled for March 3rd. It seems that everyone loves macarons! And on that note, we asked Pastry Chef Kara for her insight on the delicate treats and a bit about herself in a recent “interview.”
Why are macarons so popular?
Chef Kara: They’re an appealing treat from multiple aspects for a multitude of people. They’re pretty to look at, are adaptable to many flavor combinations, and in their original form, one of the only desserts to be naturally gluten-free
How does macaron-making compare to say cookie, pie or cake baking?
Chef Kara: Macarons require patience and can be intimidating because they are susceptible to mistakes in time and handling. Once you know the pitfalls and how to set yourself up for success, they can be a lot of fun to make.
What makes a good macaron?
Chef Kara: A great macaron is crisp on the outside, with a smooth shell, and chewy on the inside, with a flavorful filling.
What flavors are popular now?
Chef Kara: The classic flavors are always in style, like Pistachio, Lemon, and Salted Caramel. And, there are more adventurous flavors like Hot pepper, Honey lavender, and Lychee.
What can attendees look forward to in your macaron classes?
Chef Kara: Guests will learn what not to do when making a batch of French macarons, where they could be going wrong, and how to fix their mistakes when possible.
How did you become a pastry chef?
Chef Kara: When I was little, I always told my Mom that I was going to be a “Cooker” when I grew up. I started out in the industry as a short-order cook, working in mom & pop places (I can sling eggs with the best of them). I attended the local vocational school (Lorain County JVS) learning Culinary Arts and chose to pursue a degree in Baking in Pastry Arts when I left for college. I attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI on a FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America) Scholarship and attained a Bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, with a concentration in Leadership. I’ve worked in multiple applications of the industry – from a truck stop, to a hospital, to a luxury resort. I’ve lived in five states and worked my way from an intern, to a pastry cook until I finally got my first Pastry Chef position, a few years out of college.
What is your favorite dessert to eat?
Chef Kara: Ice cream sandwiches. I could eat them every day.
What is your day to day like?
Chef Kara: I spend my days strategizing and organizing with my team, handing out prep work, and keeping up with costing, ordering and inventory. I also come up with ideas to incorporate new techniques, attend necessary meetings, and help my staff with any issues that may arise.
What led you to Urban Farmer?
Chef Kara: I started at Urban Farmer as a pastry cook. I had only been looking for a part time position and I really liked the concept, specifically working with locally sourced products. It’s rare to find places that make their own breads and desserts anymore, let alone a place that believes in sustainability. It turned into a great match for me, and I was promoted to pastry chef within the first year.
To learn more about Urban Farmer classes and the team, please follow us on Facebook.
For those who attended Macaron Masterclass, we hope you are practicing the skills you learned at home! Please share photos of your macaron creations on Instagram by tagging #ufmacaron so we can see your progre