Pastry Chef Greg Mosko’s desserts are one of the best things about Chicago’s rave-reviewed, Michelin-starred North Pond restaurant. The Chicago-born chef trained in his native city, first at Kendall College and then at the French Pastry School. Pastry school saw him into his first stint at North Pond part-time. Since then, Mosko has ventured to California to work at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and The French Laundry; opened his own resort called Cavallo Point; and returned to Chicago and North Pond, where he’s been for the last five years.
There are three people in the North Pond pastry department: Chef Mosko, his morning prep cook and a nighttime pastry assistant to help with dinner plating. Often, an intern will also aid in this aesthetical pursuit. The pastry team adheres to the same farm-to-table mandate as the rest of the kitchen. That is why Chef Mosko looks to what’s in season when designing a dessert menu. “My general menu consists of whatever’s out there for us to use,” he said, “I pick the ingredients and decide whether or not I want to do something that’s classic…or more component based.” If he takes the classic route, the Chef puts his own spin on it: “I try to think of a different way to present it to the customers that is not necessarily as typical…but is in the same flavor profile that they’re used to.” This brings us to Mosko’s original flavor palate. When he began studying pastry, the field was rooted in more classic desserts; now anything goes and “the pastry scene is moving more toward balance” between the sweet and savory. For example, you might find charred corn sherbet, arugula ice cream or blueberry-verbena sorbet on the North Pond dessert menu.
Chef Mosko has great respect for the chefs he’s worked with. He cites North Pond Chef Bruce Sherman and Chef Thomas Keller as inspirations, along with two of his own former sous chefs. Mosko told me that the most important things he learned from Chef Keller is that “you have a responsibility to put out the best product possible, that there is no perfect food but if you strive to put out the most perfect food possible, you get the best product possible.” Some of Chef Mosko’s favorite tools in this effort are his stand mixer – “the heart of the pastry kitchen” – and his service spoons and spatulas, which he designates “the work horses.” His Pacojet, a device for pureeing, is another favorite.
Mosko’s innovation knows no bounds. Though he “might repeat flavors or flavor combinations,” he doesn’t repeat menu items from season-to-season. I don’t think anyone would complain if he did.
Originally published on cuative.com.