Saving room for dessert is easier said than done at Reserve, but with Pastry Chef Rawan at the helm, we highly recommend you do. Our team sat down with Rawan to talk all things dessert, including her inspiration and the local farms she uses to source high quality, sustainable ingredients. Check out the below and meet the mastermind behind our best desserts.
Tell us how long you’ve been a pastry chef at Reserve.
Rawan: I’ve been the Pastry Chef at Reserve for two years, but have worked here for a total of six years. Before that I worked at my family’s restaurant, Pita House, as well as Egypt Valley Country Club and a restaurant in Maui, Hawaii.
How did you become a pastry chef?
Rawan: I never planned on becoming a pastry chef; I typically worked as a savory cook, but in a very “pastry chef” style. I followed a strict recipe and was precise and consistent. I was very detail-oriented and also particular about the dishes I created. When the Pastry Chef position opened at Reserve, my coworkers and peers told me I should try it. I took the job as a challenge to myself and also to change my routine. Now I’m much more inspired as a pastry chef after getting into it. I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do.
Where do you find inspiration for your pastries and desserts?
Rawan: I am very inspired by my Middle Eastern culture. I use classic French techniques, but with other ingredients. I almost always have a dessert with pistachios and orange blossom water. They’re flavors I’m familiar with and want everyone to learn about and to enjoy. I’m also inspired by what’s in season locally. I use fruits, vegetables, or nuts that our local farmers have. I am also inspired by my travels and various ethnic restaurants in Grand Rapids.
Where do you get your ingredients?
Rawan: I strive to use local purveyors for almost all my products. I get most fruits from local farms and orchards like Visser Farms, Green Wagon Farm, Friske Orchards, Wells Orchards, and Nyblad Orchards. I also pick up ingredients from Middle Eastern, Asian, and Hispanic markets in the Grand Rapids area.
What would you like people to know about the desserts at Reserve?
Rawan: My desserts are carefully thought out and deeply inspired by my culture and my background. I won’t put something on the menu because a trend says I should put something on the menu. Guests should come to Reserve for a truly unique, Middle East-meets-West dessert experience. And if your server asks if you’d like to see a dessert menu, always say yes. I’m guilty of not looking at a dessert menu simply because I usually see the same thing: basic brownie, cheesecake, crème brûlée, etc. But we try to push ourselves and others out of our comfort zones and to try something different and exciting.
If a guest wants to enjoy your pastries, what menu item should they consider?
Rawan: The Kunafolis! This dessert has a unique flavor and texture, and it’s a sneak peek into classic Middle Eastern flavors. But I also always have a chocolate option. Everyone loves chocolate, right?!
Tell us your favorite pastry/dessert to make, at home or at Reserve.
Rawan: My favorite dessert to make at Reserve is Frasier Cake, a menu item from the summer. It includes fresh strawberries with sumac Bavarian cream and strawberry jam. The summer fruit is the best part. But at home my family requests my tiramisu at every family function. It’s a staple!
Interested in our latest dessert menu? View it here and make a reservation. Join our mailing list to stay up to date with the latest from Reserve Wine & Food. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.