Table Talk: Chef Stephanie Krupp
The classically-trained pastry chef brings her unique twist to Choulala Fine Pastries in two Winter Park locations and another in Sarasota—all offering beautiful creations that are equally pleasing to both eye and palate.
Where does your interest in pastry come from?
Any time my mom was in the kitchen I wanted to lend a hand. I helped with cooking and quickly discovered my love of making cakes and my own creations using boxed mixes. My Mom even gave me the nickname “Better Crocker” when I was a kid! My family spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen. My grandmother made delicious Peruvian cuisine and my dad cooked up classic American diner food. When it came time for school, I wanted to learn more about the science behind baking, so I went for it.
What’s it like to be a woman in a professional kitchen?
Starting out is tough. When I trained in France, they were not too keen on me as a young American woman. However, at the end of my training, they had come to respect my work and my process. Pastry kitchens in the United States are welcoming and it’s more of a “women’s club.”
Describe your role at Choulala.
My title is executive chef but I wear many hats, from creating new desserts for the menu and assessing and tracking food costs, to running the stores and hiring employees. I work closely with the team to test and develop new flavors and features for our menu. I’m a bit of a mad scientist at times! I also consult with guests on special events and custom orders to create unique and delicious items based on their favorite flavors.
What’s been the biggest challenge of opening, and then COVID?
Getting the word out that Choulala is here. People are discovering us every day. Our bright pink storefront helps! The COVID shutdown hurt, but we started taking orders online and more orders over the phone. It’s been wonderful to see our guests back in the stores.
What’s your favorite flavor to work with?
There are so many! While we have lots of chocolate items on the menu, I love fruit. There isn’t anything I won’t eat, and that provides endless options for developing layers of flavors. Our Bananas Foster Choux has the classic banana with rum and brown butter flavors. It’s just so good!
What’s an underappreciated flavor you think people need to know about?
I think it would be an item, our chouquettes. They are simple but so delicious. Chouqettes are light and airy choux pastry puffs topped with pearl sugar and sometimes chocolate chips. They are perfect with your coffee, tea, or hot cocoa for breakfast or for a snack.
What’s the most creative pastry you’ve ever made?
Cheddar cheese ice cream for a deconstructed apple pie dessert. It was a fun riff on apple pie à la mode.
What’s always in your fridge?
I always have cheese in my fridge. My favorite is a sharp white cheddar from Vermont that I love to top with strawberry jam.
What do you cook on your day off?
Pasta! When I have the time, I make a classic spaghetti Bolognese. More often, it’s a lighter shrimp and garlic sauteed with white wine over angel hair pasta, which comes together quickly.
What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant right now?
I love seafood and my favorite is Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen + Bar. I love their grilled octopus starter served with chimichurri. I cannot pass up the birria taco from MX Tacos!
Any rules to live by?
Don’t stress. I keep a very calm work environment. I like to stay organized and set that tone in the workplace as well.
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Beer or wine? Beer
Cake or Pie? Pie
Donut or Muffin? Donut
Bagel or Biscuit? Bagel
Crunchy topping or Sweet Drizzle? Crunchy
Ice Cream or Hot Chocolate? Ice Cream
Sugar Rush or The Great British Baking Show? Sugar Rush
Street eats or sit down? Sit-down street eats
Facebook or Instagram? Instagram
Ree Drummond or Giada De Laurentiis? I’m a Chopped fan.