New Columbus Chefs: Summer Schott
Over the next few weeks, Columbus Underground is taking a look at some of the amazing young talent in the kitchens of your favorite local restaurants, food trucks and other dining establishments in the relaunch of our series known as “New Columbus Chefs“.
When Marcella’s opened in the Short North in 2007, it signaled a bit of a milestone for the neighborhood as restaurateur Cameron Mitchell was wearing his confidence on his sleeve that this evolving arts district had the base to support his latest Italian semi-formal concept. Since then, Marcella’s has become known for their high quality and reasonably priced food, as well as kicking off the trend of accordion window installation for opening restaurants up to the sidewalk when there’s no room for a front patio. One of the best kept secrets at Marcella’s can be found on the dessert menu, thanks to pastry chef Summer Schott.
Name: Summer Schott
Current Job: Pastry Chef at Marcella’s
Can you tell us about your training/educational experience?
I’m a graduate of Loretta Paganini School of Cooking Pastry Arts program and Columbus State Community College’s Restaurant Management Program. I believe in life-long education and I am always looking for more culinary workshops or programs to expand my skills. This has led me to take additional courses from Ewald Notter’s School of Confectionary Arts and The French Pastry School in Chicago. There, I was able to experiment with advanced techniques like sugar sculptures and chocolate art, which is a lot harder than it looks on TV!
Can you tell us about your professional kitchen experience?
I have been working in the restaurant industry since I was 14. I’ve had the opportunity to work in fine dining, casual dining, catering, large volume baking, cake decorating and more. Through those experiences I have worked on a range or pastries from classics like croquembouche to a sculptural Sponge Bob Square Pants birthday cake. I found my home with Cameron Mitchell restaurants in 2005 where I enjoy the different challenges of dessert menu development. I have had the opportunity to create desserts for Cap City, Ocean Club, Cameron’s, M, Marcella’s and I hope to work on the new concept, The Pearl.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
Italian. Not just because I work at an Italian restaurant now, but I enjoy that the cuisine’s heart and passion can be shown in the bold flavors.
What is your favorite cuisine to eat?
Chinese. I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in China sampling food from four of the largest cities. It is still one of the most amazing culinary experiences I have had yet. I am fascinated by cuisine that I find difficult to recreate.
What one kitchen utensil/tool could you never live without?
Nothing beats a good wire whisk. Even without an oven or electricity, there are so many great desserts you can pull off quickly with just a whisk and a bit of muscle.
What’s your favorite cookbook?
I’m always finding new favorites. Currently, it’s Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi. Her take on infusions is particularly interesting. A classic I also refer to is The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg.
What is your favorite Columbus restaurant (besides your own)?
Barcelona. It was one of my first restaurant experiences when I moved to Columbus and remains a favorite. Also, my favorite indulgence after work is Graffiti Burger. I have never found a better vegetarian burger.
Who are your inspirational figures in the culinary world?
Jacques Pepin, Elizabeth Falkner, and Alton Brown. They all have amazing talent and a good sense of humor about their work too.
What is your dream job?
As much as I love to learn new recipes and create them, I love to share what I have learned with others too. I think I would really enjoy teaching high school culinary students. I was introduced to cooking in a similar program, and it’s always refreshing to see new passion for the art. I try to teach a few pastry classes a year, and I am pleasantly surprised to find the students have a thing or two to teach me in turn.
What do you think about the culinary scene in Columbus?
Columbus has been a great city for entrepreneurs to have grown their brand and really put Columbus on the map as an expanding culinary city. In recent years alone we have seen Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream publish her cookbook and ship ice cream out of state. Piada has made its mark known in National Restaurant Magazine as an expansion to watch and Cameron Mitchell has continued to open new restaurants in other states. I have seen Columbus turn up again and again in popular food blogs and magazines, even the Washington Post toted Columbus as a “new destination for food lovers” in 2011. The food scene only seems to be getting better and I am excited to see Columbus to start trends of its own.
What do you think about the “foodie” scene in Columbus?
I love that people have become more interested about the ingredients in their food. I think it gives chefs an opportunity to introduce new flavors and combinations that some may have been shy about in the past. It enhances the experience for both the chefs and the guests.
Tell us one food-related fact about yourself that few people know.
Crème Brule is my nemesis. Though it’s a highly regarded staple on many, many, dessert menus I often feel like it’s hogging a spot where I would love to see something new and different.
To sample some of Chef Summer Schott’s cuisine, head to www.marcellasristorante.com.
Photo by Chris Walker Photography.