Contemporary Patisserie: A Journey with Chef William Werner
In his first 5-Star Pastry Series® at PreGel America, Chef William Werner intrigued chef attendees from all over the U.S. with his unique style of pastries. Chef Werner is the pastry chef and owner of the San Francisco-based contemporary style pastry shop Craftsman and Wolves. He showcased his infamous recipes using unique flavor combinations and out-of-the box ideas.
The “Contemporary Patisserie” class began with the student chefs being split into four teams, which, throughout the class, were named by Chef Werner himself. He worked closely with each team, educating them on his recipes, how they were created, and how important it is to keep a production schedule especially when making bread. The Gogi-Nib Chocolate Levain was time-consuming but captivated everyone with each step. The Levain began with a starter, affectionately named “Dolly,” and ended with perfection and Coffee Laced Milk Jam. The class consisted of various cakes, tarts, snacks, and confections, each as delicious as the one prior.
Chef Werner took traditional recipes and enhanced them in different ways. For example, he demonstrated adding bitters to Demerara sugar for the exterior coating on a Blood Orange Pâte de Fruit, and he used uncommon flavors like osmanthus, black sesame, and buckwheat in his recipe innovation.
Chef Werner finds inspiration when visiting Asian markets, and he inspired the students to step out of their norm to find ingredients that will make their desserts stand out. He shared ideas on how he comes up with a new item—taking each ingredient and tasting them side by side to see which complements the other(s) the best.
The real star of the show, which took a generous amount of testing to come alive, was The Rebel Within: a savory muffin surrounding a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg finished with “‘Basco Salt.” It began with mixing sour cream, oil, and eggs until combined, adding all of the dry ingredients, and then mixing in shredded cheese, onions, and crumbled sausage. It was flawless!
The chef students arrived from all over the United States, representing career changers, restaurants, universities, and private clubs. The 3-day class finished with a modern display of pastries and confections that led everyone to think about how they would incorporate these new techniques into their work. Chef Werner toasted to a wonderful class and ended with great conversation, while enjoying all of their hard work that had culminated into a beautiful buffet of contemporary pastries.
“After an intense, three-day workshop, I would like to thank PreGel and Pastry Chef William Werner for making this an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend attending events much like this.” – Justin Kostelansky
“PreGel is always an amazing experience. They do a really nice job in selecting not only knowledgeable chefs, but great teachers/storytellers.” – Quientina Steward, assistant professor, Johnson & Wales University
“Very intense, energetic class. Chef Werner is very knowledgeable and is willing to share the wealth of his knowledge and practical experience. I highly encourage taking his class. Chef Werner is very personable and friendly, having called every student by name.” – Raymond Jang
“I am grateful to have learned something new and to have trained at PreGel America. I will be back again to learn more.” – Dhan Tamang, executive sous chef, Army Navy Club, Washington D.C.
“This was the first class I’ve participated in. The knowledge and expertise of Chef Werner was amazing. The pairings of flavors and textures! The hands-on experience really helped to make me feel that I could do this myself! Thank you for the great overall experience.” – Beth Ashby, co-owner, Mangia Italian Restaurant
“I enjoyed class with Chef William Werner. His energy and knowledge was very inspiring. I would highly recommend attending a class at PreGel America.” – Todd Richter, executive pastry chef, Prestonwood Country Club
“Great class! Chef Werner was very organized with a new approach to the classic presentation and flavor combinations. Great personality and easy to follow explanations.” Rene Olmeda, pastry chef instructor, Johnson & Wales University
“Love it! I will be back every year. Chef William was super fun and gave the best advice. The desserts were amazing. Thank you!” – Elsa Flores, pastry chef, dolce salato