Speaking by phone from the basement of the future Menu, Jason Gehring says he was intrigued by the many different opportunities presented to him by chef Frederik De Pue. As part of De Pue's multifaceted concepts in Shaw and Penn Quarter, Gehring would have the opportunity to bake breads, design plated desserts and create sweets for takeout. As he spoke, a certain implication seemed to hang in the air between Gehring's words:
He'd do more than engineer designer doughnuts.
If you'll recall, last week Gehring officially split from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, where he produced yeasted rounds of great distinction. His re-imagined creme brulee eked out a victory in the Food section's Dozen Weeks of Doughnuts contest earlier this year. One judge opined: "I love everything about this doughnut.”
In his new job, Gehring will oversee the sweets programs for two restaurants (Table, and the forthcoming dining room on the top-floor at Menu in the former Cafe Atlantico/Azur space), a market (on the ground floor at Menu), the Bistro Bar (on the third floor at Menu) and (whew!) De Pue's catering company, 42 Degrees. The catering company has already settled into the basement of the building, where Gehring spent his first day on Monday contemplating the many menus he'll be generating in the near future.
"I have a lot of different ideas for each venue," says Gehring, 36, the former pastry chef at Fiola, "but it's a little too early" to reveal anything.
The pastry chef allows that he'll cast his net far and wide for influences. He imagines desserts based on French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Filipino traditions. I asked Gehring if that meant he'll incorporate sweetened red bean paste into his treats, as Filipino cooks do.
"I'm trying to steer clear of bean paste," he says, direct as a bullet train. "I'm not a fan."
Whatever he comes up with, Gehring doesn't have a ton of time for at least one of his new outlets: He says his new menu for Table, recently selected as one of Bon Appetit's 50 best new restaurants, is expected to roll out next week.