If you like the stunning desserts at Abacus created by pastry chef Rick Griggs, you'd best make your reservation soon. Griggs is headed to San Francisco, where he'll be pastry chef at renowned catering company Taste. He replaces Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura, and he begins his new post in April.
"The company is very cool; they've been in business for nearly 30 years," Griggs says. "It's a big, established catering company that's known for their pastries, so it's a big thing to step into — especially following Yigit. And they have a tradition in pastry: [Artisanal chocolatier] Michael Recchuiti was their original pastry chef. The lineage is legendary."
Griggs got the California bug last year when he was wooed by a Los Angeles company searching for a pastry chef. The position did not materialize, but Griggs became enchanted.
"I got the California bug ever since I went out for a trip on my birthday to Santa Barbara," he says. "I felt like I needed to be there."
He'd also forged a professional friendship with Pura, whom he met at an event last year. "Yigit told me his old position at Taste was open because he opened his own shop, Tout Sweet," Griggs says.
In order to "audition," Griggs had to present a dessert tasting. His presentation included a rose tea pot de crème with a garam masala phyllo crisp finished with a pomegranate rose gelee; a coconut milk risotto with candied kumquats and caramelized rice puff (which is currently on the menu at Abacus); a "mango misu," like a tiramisu with mango; and a slew of chocolates, truffles and candies.
Griggs says he'll continue to pursue his alternate career as a fine arts painter (and is selling some of his works before he leaves town).
"Taste is very arts-oriented," he says. "They cater a lot of arts and museum functions, and that fits for me."