Our blog readers know that we appreciate how C-CAP supports young chefs in accomplishing their dreams. Recently, we reached out to C-CAP alum Stephanie Grajales. Grajales is a Pastry Chef at The Ritz Carlton Central Park South in New York City where she creates pastries, wedding cakes and specialty items for Auden Bistro & Bar and the Star Lounge, as well as banquets and room service.
FP: How did you get your start as a pastry chef?
I was afforded this amazing opportunity by former Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Francois Bonnet at The Ritz Carlton. I was a cook for many years and the time came for a change. I must say that this was the best decision ever. I have found something that just makes hard work and effort worthwhile. It’s very rewarding knowing that you can bring a smile to someone’s face with just one bite of cake.
FP: Cake and dessert lovers are glad you made the decision!
We truly admire the work of C-CAP. Share with us your experience and work with the organization.
SG: C-CAP has been my guiding light and never ending source of support and praise through my career. The work they do is truly amazing; they have changed many lives and continue to do so. I am always willing to give back in any way. I have participated in events such as the Junior Benefit at Red Rooster, the Annual Benefit at Pier 60, and soon, as a judge at the final scholarship competition at ICE.
FP: When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in NYC?
SG: I must say Jean-Georges is at the top of my list. “Food coma” is all I can say about that. Tuk Tuk in Long Island City is another place I go for good Thai food. L&B Spumoni Gardens is my go-to place that is very relaxed and always satisfies my craving for Italian food. I mostly enjoy eating locally here in my native neighborhood of Bushwick — but I’ll travel almost anywhere for good food.
FP: Yes, we’ve heard that Bushwick has a great variety of great places to eat!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
SG: Guilty pleasures. That’s a tough one being that I’m on a health kick now. My guilty pleasures would be: eating a whole sfogliatelle (a.k.a. lobster tail pastry) from my neighborhood bakery; indulging in slice of fresh baked cake while its still hot; freshly made empanadas with lots of spicy chimichurri sauce. And how could I forget: really good Pizza from L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn.
FP: Cake and pizza! How could we live without?!
If you weren’t a pastry chef, what would you be doing? What are your non-cooking hobbies?
SG: I honestly don’t know what else I would have the passion for or pleasure doing as a profession. Pastry is my life. I do find it very rewarding to teach young children. I’ve always admired the dedication and patience it takes to engage and enlighten young minds. As for my hobbies, I have a newfound love for running and fitness. I also have a soft spot for video games. I play with my 8 year old son, Larz. Someone has to be the cool mom around my house.
FP: We bet you’re a cool mom indeed! Thank you, Stephanie, for your time. We look forward to seeing (and tasting!) your delicious pastries at future C-CAP events!