Sherry Yard is considered one of America’s finest pastry chefs, winning the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2002 (she is in fact a three-time James Beard Award winner). She’s also known for her near two-decade tenure (1995-2013) as executive partner for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant group, where she oversaw desserts at Spago, Cut, and Chinois, as well as numerous events including the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Emmy Awards. Yard’s present position is COO, Tuck Hospitality Group – Restaurant Division of luxury movie theater iPic.
Fortunate for Westchesterites, with the recent opening of the county’s first iPic and adjacent affiliated 4,600 sq ft restaurant City Perch in Dobbs Ferry, there’s ample opportunity to sample Yard’s signature locally sourced, contemporary comfort food. Expect dishes such as brioche-crusted Maryland blue crab cakes, herb-roasted chicken with charred cauliflower, and a grilled Berkshire pork chop.
Complementing City Perch Kitchen + Bar’s playfully presented dishes are farm-to-glass cocktails, local beers, and boutique wines that constitute a beverage program crafted by Master Bartender and Advanced Sommelier Adam Seger. This is not your standard issue bar program, and instead, thoughtful drink offerings by a über-creative barkeep. Expect updated takes on old-school cocktails like the brandy Alexander utilizing liquid nitrogen and cherry-chocolate bourbon ice cream, plus a Long Island ice tea with house-made Maraschino cherries and fresh lemon sour.
We sat down with Yard recently to discuss culinary role models, her time working for Wolfgang Puck, and of course, dessert!
Any specific challenges when crafting a theater concessions menu like the one at iPic versus a traditional sit-down restaurant menu?
We create dine-in-the-dark menus, no forks or knives. Nothing that’s too crunchy and certainly no food that is too smelly. We prepare crave-able hand-held dishes.
Modern Wedge Salad
The plating at City Perch is excellent. Where did you learn the importance of plating and the visual appeal of food?
We taste with our eyes first. Starting in a French kitchen in the pastry department taught me the importance of detail.
Any chef role models? What about this person that inspires you?
So many! Alice Waters, Nancy Silverton, the late Edna Lewis. They’re strong chefs with a voice of their own.
You worked for renowned chef Wolfgang Puck as executive pastry chef for nearly two decades. What did you learn from that experience?
The restaurant business is like a roller-coaster ride, ups and downs…hold on tight!
What is the first thing you ever remember cooking/baking?
Making my own homemade Thousand Island dressing — I was 3!
What’s your go to dessert to have at home?
Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream!
Black and Blue Pot Pie
Any dessert you really dislike?
Anything peanut butter — sorry I’m allergic.
Is there a dessert trend you wish would go away?
I am a lover of all desserts. Bring on crème brûlée and all the chocolate truffle cakes. They will always have a soft spot in my heart.
Which app, entrée, and dessert would you order for a meal at City Perch?
Depends on the day! The French onion soup when it’s cold outside. On a warm night, the cool ahi tuna. Roast chicken and the red velvet Pavlova is a year-round treat.
If not a chef, you’d be a…
Lounge act…wish I could sing.
Who is the most famous person you ever cooked for?
I have been blessed to cook for a litany of dignitaries and celebs, most important person to me is the guest at the table each night — they are my celebs — their stories inspire me.
What would you say culinary school can’t teach and is best learned in the field?
School can’t teach hunger and passion. Great Chefs have a fire in their belly and a desire to share their art with others.
Do you have a favorite cuisine?
Whatever I am eating that night…Thai, Indian, Japanese, Brooklynese.
Name five items in your home refrigerator.
Mustard, chocolate, cheese, Champagne, eggs!
What’s the dish you do best?
Eggs. Simple as that!
Crab Eggs Benedict