Doing something you love is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to a job. After all, it helps you keep going with your work, and it serves as a motivation for you to continue with what you do. Take Chef Michelle Garcia as an example. She has been cooking since her teen years. Garcia does her work quickly and silently, with the music from the speakers blaring. Her specialty is American pastry, which she peppers with French design. She uses only the best seasonal ingredients, organically grown and sourced locally. Her love for punk and rock culture in everything she creates at the Bleeding Heart Bakery.
It’s something you don’t get to see with traditional bakeries. Come to think of it, Chef Garcia is no ordinary pastry chef.
FriendsEAT: Let’s start off light, where have you worked in the past?
MG: Whole Foods Market, Vosges Haut Chocolat, The Four Seasons, Spago and De Taart Van M’n Tante
FE: So we know where you honed your skills, but when did the passion begin?
MG: I started to learn profession baking and pastry from age 13 and I just never stopped!
FE: Who in your life has influenced your cooking the most?
MG: My husband, Valentin, has influenced my pastry the most. His mexican American culture is so rich is delicious history.
FE: What made you decide you would become a professional cook?
MG: I spent most of my teenage years cooking my ass off…and I always got rave reviews, but it took a Chef enrolling me in Kendall College for me to commit….I always thought I was going to be a rockstar!
FE: What misconceptions do people have coming into the field?
MG: Fists, that they will instantley become rock star chefs with their own TV show. Second, that they will ever go home for a holiday. Third, that they will make millions of dollars at the drop of the hat.
FE: Best cooking tip for a novice?
MG: ****LEARN**** Everything is a learning experience. You should take a job for how much you will learn, not how much $$ you will make.
FE: Which three cooking tools or gadgets are your favorites?
FE: Funniest kitchen incident?
MG: I was working the hot line for brunch and was wearing overalls….I move VERY fast and I don’t always pay attention to dangers around me. I side swiped the syrup ladel that was sitting in a steam table and it lifted up and poured boiling hot maple syrup inside my overalls. I didn’t scream….but I have a very large tattoo planned that goes down my entire leg…. I got second degree burns!.
FE: I am not sure if that was funny or just plain painful, let’s get back to something lighter…favorite food to cook with?
MG: chocolate, hands down.
FE: When at home, what do you like to eat?
MG: Im a HUGE fan of yellow curry. Second to that would be my husbands Pozole.
FE: Is there a specific etiquette in your kitchen that you pride yourself in?
MG: I work fast and clean….I don’t talk and I don’t waste time…but I HAVE to have the music cranked up high!
I’d like to thank Chef Garcia for taking the time to chat with us and even more for sharing her Bacon Bread Pudding recipe, I’ll be trying it out asap.
4 cups of cubed and toasted brioche (challah works too)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 banana, sliced and roasted in oven at 250 degree for 15 minutes
3 whole eggs
1 slice of bacon, minced and rendered on the stove until crispy (dont toss fat)
1 pinch cinnamon
Mix all liquids, sugar and eggs together
Place bread cubes into a large bowl
Place bacon, bacon fat and banana on top of bread cubes, sprinkle with cinnamon
Pour liquid mixture over bread and mix together by hand, cover bowl and allow mixture to soak in fridge over night
Line mold (can use ramekins or coffee cups) with butter and sugar, then fill with bread pudding mixture
Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until no liquid rises to the surface when pressed on top.
The Bleeding Heart Bakery is located at 1955 West Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60657 773-327-6934 and at 1010 North Boulevard in Oak Park, IL