Pastry chef Emily Luchetti preaches dessert without guilt 

Veteran San Francisco pastry chef Emily Luchetti is on a mission when it comes to dessert.

“It has to taste really fabulous. If you’re going to have the calories, make sure they taste good,” says the dessert star, who appears next week with fellow experts Rose Levy Beranbaum and Alice Medrich, in conversation with Sunset magazine food editor Margo True.

Luchetti sounds casual about Tuesday’s event at the Jewish Community Center – “bakers love to get together and talk to each other,” she says – but the summit convenes titans in their field, all James Beard Award-winning cookbook writers.

Beranbaum is author of the new “Baking Bible” and essential “The Cake Bible”; Medrich, known as the first lady of chocolate, founded the former Bay Area Cocolat stores; and Luchetti, chief pastry officer for Big Night Restaurant Group (which includes hot San Francisco eateries The Cavalier, Marlowe and Park Tavern), has been in charge at Farallon, Waterbar and Stars through the decades.

Luchetti, who has been in the game so long, is impervious to trends, noting that “flavors ebb and flow.” While she’s not opposed to savory elements in desserts – “basil in ice cream can be abolutely delicious” – she’s careful to maintain an appealing, proper balance when she’s coming up with new creations.

These days, her inspiration comes from various places: reading, tasting, making mistakes, and, most importantly, what she calls a “data bank” she has stored up in her brain through her many years of experience.

Her own favorite desserts depend on the season. She likes a bowl of ice cream or something with fresh produce in summer, something warm and comforting in winter, or caramel in fall. She adds, “A piece of good quality, 80 percent dark chocoate – I could eat that any time of year.”

She’s pleased about changes in her industry that allow for chefs to be more artistic and experimental than they were in the 1980s and before, when desserts primarily were categorized as European or American. She says, “It’s morphed into so many creative styles, all very different. Anything goes, it’s very exciting. Everybody can co what they want with their talent.”

Luchetti’s current passion is sharing basic messages about eating sweets via social media. She doesn’t like hearing people say they feel guilty about indulging in something that tastes good. Using #dessertworthy on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she implores followers to make desserts special, pleasurable (and not overly frequent) experiences in healthy lives.

IF YOU GO

Rose Levy Beranbaum, Emily Luchetti, Alice Medrich

Where: Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St., S.F.

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Tickets: $25 to $35

Contact: (415) 292-1233, www.jccsf.org/arts

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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