Having stepped into the spotlight of the Mid-Atlantic's relentless culinary scene, pastry chef Chris Ford seems unsatisfied by any past success.
“I don’t sleep. Sleep is wasted time,” Ford said. “Time is so valuable and I can’t think while I sleep. There is just more to conquer.”
Currently, the beneficary vessel of this relentless pastry quest is Wit & Wisdom. One of Michael Mina’s restaurants, it's situated in the heart of Baltimore Harbor’s Four Seasons.
Ford, though, hails from Orlando, and his family played a critical role in the development of his career. “My grandmother had me baking bread with her at six," he said. "I was fascinated with the bread rising.”
To this day, his grandmother, now 80, still makes him cook when he visits: “Oh, yeah! She definitely gets me in the kitchen!”
Ford was also heavily influenced by his mother -- and her work ethic. “My mom is very driven," he said. "She’s really a great businesswoman, and when she worked late, I would make dinner. I actually really enjoyed it '' and so did she.”
He went official with his culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu, but fairly early, he realized he was not meant to be an executive chef.
“I went... to be a savory chef, but halfway through school I was drawn to the creative side that pastry showed me, the artistry behind it all,” he said. “I love chocolate.”
And ever since, Ford has been working relentlessly toward achieving his dreams: winning a James Beard award, and publishing a book by age 30. He started at Chikalicious in New York City, before moving on to Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, Va., with a pitstop at Rogue 24 before landing at Wit & Wisdom.
Along this pathway, he recently nabbed a noteworthy title. Last month Food & Wine Magazine amed him “The People’s Best New Pastry Chef.” The award will send Chris to the 30th anniversary classic in Aspen, Colo., later this year.
Wit & Wisdom's dessert menu includes a banana cream puff with hazelnut, coconut tapioca and cocoa sorbet, a wood-oven apple crisp, and a Baltimore bar (peanut, pretzel and chocolate), among other goodies.
You can also check out recipes and gorgeous, flaky pastry pics at his blog, Butter Love & Hardwork -- which includes the awesome time-lapse video below. Or, hey, you can make a worthwhile trip to Baltimore.