You probably haven’t heard of Dominique and Cindy Duby, but in the introduction to their book, Wild Sweets: Exotic Desserts and Wine Pairings (2003), legendary American chef Charlie Trotter compares the Vancouver-based husband-and-wife team to some of the greatest modern pastry chefs.
“When I think of the giants of the pastry world – the magicians, the artists – I think of Pierre Hermé, Albert Adrià and Jacques Torres, to name a few […] With their extraordinary work and ideas on electrifying display in Wild Sweets: Exotic Desserts and Wine Pairings, Dominique and Cindy Duby have earned a place at this elite table. This […] book completely challenges the traditional approach to what is generally regarded as the conclusion of the meal: dessert! It is as though the Dubys have gone off into the wilderness, meditated on their craft, contemplated all technique, philosophized on ingredients, and returned with an original and coherent vision of what is possible.”
High praise, indeed!
The Dubys are the pastry chefs, chocolatiers and owners behind Vancouver-based online shop Wild Sweets (dcduby.com).
In the book’s introduction, they write, “We believe that food preparation is 60% ingredients and 40% technique; that is, the success of a dessert relies in large part on the quality of its ingredients. Prepare your desserts with the purest and finest foods at their seasonal peaks – including as many wild foods as possible – and you are already two-thirds of your way to success. The rest depends on techniques, tricks and, most importantly, chemistry […] Pastry-making and chemistry are identical: they are both based on time and temperature. The basic premise is that foods exposed to heat for a certain amount of time change from a raw state to a cooked one. If you understand the stages of the process and the potential pitfalls, you can anticipate and/or prevent failure.”
Matching desserts with wine isn’t a subject most chefs cover, but the Dubys write, “Pastry matrimony, or the pairing of wines and desserts, also plays a big part in our dessert philosophy. Just as wines enhance savoury dishes, sweet wines complement dessert.”
The Dubys like to incorporate into their desserts ingredients we normally consider to be savoury items. Their combinations include concord grape clafoutis with sweet savoy cabbage and warm grapes; poblano-caramel parfait with fireweed honey-roasted tomatoes and chili matches; chestnut moelleux with slow-roasted Fuji apples and pear tempura; white chocolate and rice milk flan with pistachio emulsion; carrot cake with peach-ginger cream and Saskatoon berry compote; milk chocolate and orange parfait with steamed meringues and orange and black truffle brown butter; and wheat berry pudding with candied black olives.