Before she spent her days kneading, piping and scooping, local pastry chef Deepal Patel was a genetic scientist.
A baking class introduced the England native to a new passion, which she turned into a career after attending the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.
Patel spent the past two and a half years as senior pastry chef at the Sheraton and Westin Crown Center Hotels. She appeared on Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship” earlier this year.
Over the summer, Patel opened her own venture, The Pantry KC, with industry veteran Joanna Young. The Lenexa-based bakery and café offers a wide variety of dishes, from vegetarian breakfast burritos to chicken salad sandwiches and oatmeal cream pies.
Here are a few of the pastry chef’s favorite things.
1. Joe’s Kansas City. I loved it before I moved to Kansas City; the pulled pork is to die for. I never order pulled pork from anywhere else.
2. Maps Coffee Roasters. The owner takes his expertise in roasting coffee and applies it to chocolate. He also uses innovative emulsifiers like almond milk to reach a wider audience.
3. Soap and Glory. I adored this line of bath products when I lived in England. It was hard moving to the U.S. and not having them, but thankfully Walgreens started carrying the line recently.
4. Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman. I go back to it again and again. It has my Holy Grail recipe for hollandaise sauce.
5. Serrated KitchenAid knife. It’s nothing fancy, but it has a sharpened, serrated tip that makes it the perfect knife for carving cake.
6. Instagram. I love being able to convey my artistic drive through photos. It’s actually how the Food Network found me for Spring Baking Championship.
7. Peach-A-Ritas. They’re currently my go-to alcoholic beverage. They’re easy to drink and don’t leave me with a headache in the morning.
8. Wales. I have so many wonderful memories of growing up there, and traditional British pastry making still influences my culinary inspiration.
9. My Henna tattoo. It’s around my wrist and an artistic decoration that speaks to my culture.