Behind the Sweets: Nellcôte's Nate Meads Makes Pain Perdu
It's hard not to immediately like a pastry chef who, after being asked if he personally likes the dish in question, answers with an enthusiastic "Yeah! Have you had it?" I have indeed had it, and written something of a love letter to it, even. So when I looked back over the past year to gather my top 10 favorite sweets and revisited that ode of a post, I realized I had to know what exactly went into producing one of my favorite dishes in Chicago. Luckily for me, Nate Meads, who has been the pastry chef at Nellcôte and RM Champagne Salon since they both opened last year, was happy to show me exactly what goes into it.
The first ingredient is no small amount of time. Not including rising or baking time for the brioche that serves as a sponge-like base, this dish takes a combined total of about two hours. The beauty of it though, is that it serves the exact purpose it was meant to serve when the French created it years ago: it puts to use the day-old brioche that Nellcôte offers as part of their bread service. The second ingredient, as you may have gathered from the above picture, seems to be caramel. Take a peek through the slideshow for more crispy, caramelly, behind-the-scenes action.