If you haven’t been following our Grand Cayman pastry chef Thais Rodriguez’s Tweets, you’ve been missing out. She’s been hard at work making sure the Goldsmith gospel hits a high note in the Caribbean and sharing yummy transmissions all along the way.
We’ve studded her questionnaire below with some highlights to get you up to speed [drool.]
Name: Thais Rodriguez
Position: Pastry Chef @ MGFD Cayman
Childhood ambition: Singer/Songwriter/Broadcast Journalist/Actress/Criminal Psychologist….all in one!
I began at MGFD _[WHEN]_, because: I moved to Miami from New York in September 2009 in search of something different; a new challenge. I started with a bar-tending gig in Coconut Grove and was having difficulty finding a job in a legit pastry kitchen. I gave myself until December to find a job focusing on desserts, and if not, I would return to NY. I was searching Craigslist for pastry kitchen opportunities and had seen the ad for pastry help at Michael’s. The previous night I had actually read an article on both Hedy and Michael, but prior to that, had never heard of them or the restaurant. The ad was also two weeks old, so i read past it and kept looking. I mentioned to my sister later that day that i saw an old ad for pastry help at Michael’s and its like a cricket jumped in her pants! She forced me to print my resume and deliver it in person right then and there. I did just that and the rest is history!
Favorite dish at MGFD: Pork Belly and Cremoso. (i am salivating thinking about it)
Most popular food prepared in your home: Well, growing up it was all authentic Dominican food at my grandmothers house. My mom prepared healthy versions of those dishes and other types of cuisines at my house. My mom was and still remains a health nut, so when she cooked at home it was a mix of different flavors, all prepared with organic products (which made grocery shopping with her the most dreadful thing,haha). So that definitely rubbed off on me, but Asian cuisine is one of my favorite and so i always add an Asian flare when i cook anything at home.
Favorite beverage at MGFD: Cherry Rosemary Soda…i can drink that all day
Proudest moment: Being told I was going to be the Pastry Chef at Michael’s Genuine in Cayman
Biggest challenge: Leaving New York City, responsibilities of being a Pastry Chef
Perfect day: Going a WHOLE day without mosquitoes!!! They eat me alive here!
Ideal spot for your vacation home: Barcelona, Spain
Inspirations: My grandmother…strongest woman I know
My life: Was born and raised in Washington Heights, NYC and grew up around food and the smell of sazon (latin seasoning) coming from every apartment building. My mom opened up her first restaurant when i was a junior in high school and we had it open for 2 1/2 years. I went to Pace University to study business/restaurant management and a year and a half into it, I realized I hated it and I didn’t want to be there. So I took a year off, went to Barcelona, Spain for almost 2 months looking to go to a culinary school there. But all classes were full where I wanted to go, so I flew back to NY and looked into culinary schools specializing in Pastry Arts. My two top choices were Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, California or French Culinary Institute in NYC. Choosing FCI happily, I attended the part-time program there as I was managing/bar-tending/serving at a fast-paced NYC restaurant. Once completed, my chef made an amazing recommendation to Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges and I interned there for a little less than 3 months. After that, I was making birthday, wedding, and other special occasion cakes from home, all still while working at the restaurant. I decided I needed another challenge, something new in a different setting. I decided Miami because my sister and her husband live there. I broke the news to family and friends and to my job. I had been working with them for 3 years and i can honestly say, they taught me so much about the restaurant business and the importance of not only sticking to the position you are given, but to learn every part of the restaurant from the kitchen, to the bar, to busing, and product ordering. That being said, it was very hard to leave them, but they pushed me to follow my career, and so I bid farewell to them and to NYC on September 29th, 2009. I started bar-tending at a well known restaurant/bar in Coconut Grove, but I was so anxious to start cooking again. I started at Michael’s in November, and was scheduled by myself the first day of Art Basel. I remember Chef coming over to me and asking “They put you on alone today?” and I said “Uh-huh” (i was very nervous) and then he says “You know what you’re doing?” and I almost lost it! I was SO nervous! I’ve been there ever since and I got offered a promotion to work as the Pastry Chef in the new restaurant in Cayman Islands, and of course I said yes, and here I am!