Dan’s Taste 2021 Chefs Countdown: Madeline Kiss, Madeline The Baker

Battenberg cake by Madeline The Baker Madeline Kiss
The Battenberg cake by Madeline The Baker

Launched in Sag Harbor earlier this year, Madeline The Baker creates dainty, decadent desserts baked fresh to order for pickup, and those lucky enough to snag tickets to Dan’s Taste of Two Forks will get an exclusive, curated taste. Don’t miss this premier dinner experience this August!

For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste 2021 events, visit DansTaste.com.

First word (or words) that comes to mind when you hear “Taste of Summer?”

Heirloom tomatoes and rhubarb.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

The places I’ve felt most at home and the scenery which brings me comfort and pulls at my imagination.

You can invite three people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who are they, and what would that meal be?

Machiavelli, George Washington and Nefertiti. An eight-course meal, to extend the conversation!

What’s your favorite dish to prepare, and do you enjoy eating it as much as preparing it?

French onion soup—it’s my favorite dish to prepare and to eat! I love the ritual of cooking the onions and waiting for the soup to cook on the stove, with the delicious smells rising from the pot. I’m partial to a Swiss cheese top, and I love finding new red wines to use in the broth (I tend to use Cabernet or Côte du Rhone and ALWAYS fresh thyme). It’s such a simple dish, so each ingredient carries a lot of weight—and I’m very picky about what does and doesn’t make the cut.

Who do you most admire in the food/wine world and why?

Ina Garten. My grandma, who truly introduced me to cooking and baking, loved her, and I grew up eating her recipes and watching the Barefoot Contessa with my grandma in the kitchen. She captures the joy of both cooking and eating—and she did all this after working on nuclear policy in the Carter administration! A true hero of mine.

What are your hobbies, passions and interests outside the world of food, wine and work?

I’m a politics junkie and foreign policy nut who used baking as a hobby to relax, and then during the pandemic my life got a bit turned upside down when my focuses got switched (now baking is my job and politics is more of a hobby). When I have time off I like to enjoy a cappuccino and read The Economist or working on my political science research.

What’s your comfort food and why?

Dumplings. I’ll make them with pork, miso paste, bok choi, garlic, ginger and scallions—then steam and eat with soy sauce and sesame seeds. I find the process of making them incredibly soothing, and their delicious flavor grounds me.

If you were not in the food or wine business, what would you be doing?

I would like to say a Ph.D. in Political Science or working in American Foreign Policy/Renewable Energy Policy, but I’m still working on getting there!

What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever tasted?

In Avignon, at Hôtel La Mirande, I attended a chef’s table dinner which ended with a baked peach. It was such a simple dessert, the peach had been slathered in honey and covered in verbena leaves then baked until tender, and it perfectly captured the flavor of the herbs and honey. It overwhelmed me with its subtle sweetness and flavors, I’ve tried to recreate the dish at home, but nothing can compare to that perfect peach.

What recent travels have you taken that have inspired you?

It’s been quite a while since I traveled—and I think it’s that isolation and stationery state which led me to the dishes I’m baking now. I desperately missed the event that food could be (pre-pandemic), and I wanted to recreate a version of that. I had just moved to Berlin, with the intention of staying on indefinitely, in March of 2020, and intended to spend a week in the English countryside that May. While I did get four hours in London during my layover in my frantic dash home the day of the border closings, I had really been looking forward to being in Kent and all that lush English greenery again. With my baking and my Instagram, I’ve been able to capture a sensory version of the meals I hoped to eat there and the atmosphere I’d intended to create over that lost trip.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’d like to say that nothing comes to mind because I’m still at the beginning of my story.

What’s a unique kitchen ritual you practice?

It’s very odd, but lately I find myself watching Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen on repeat while baking. I don’t know if it’s the soundtrack or the film itself, but it keeps me in my rhythm. I always have something playing on my iPad while baking—usually it’s The Great British Bake Off (the countdown music actually makes me work faster!) or a TV/film adaptation of Emma.

It’s your last weekend on earth—what’s the menu?

My grandma’s brisket and matzoh ball soup, and that baked peach from Avignon. It was the single greatest thing I’ve ever eaten, and its stunning simplicity would make the perfect end to a last meal.

We just handed you a glass of bubbly. Now please make a toast to summer on the East End.

Here’s to many meals shared with friends, new and old, and enough new memories to make up for those missed over the last 18 months!

And to see more of Madeline The Baker’s colorful creations, head to @madelinethebaker on Instagram.

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