The time-honored, sugar-coated tradition of the bake sale has always been an excellent way to bring folks together to raise money for a good cause. Put the bake sale in the hands of hyper-talented pastry chefs and the conceit is pretty much the same, though the pastries are exponentially better.
This Saturday at Sqirl, Jessica Koslow’s East Hollywood toast palace hosts the first meeting of the Pastry Action Network (P.A.N.), a biannual bake sale showcasing the work of five pastry chefs from around the country. Pastries from each of the women — yes, they’re all women — will be boxed for purchase, along with some swag, including a P.A.N. tea towel and a booklet of prose collecting personal and pastry stories from the chefs.
The first of what Koslow hopes will be many events will feature Zoë Kanan (Simon and the Whale, Studio at the Freehand Hotel), Caitlyn Jarvis (Henrietta Red), Anna Posey (Elske), Natasha Pickowicz (Café Altro Paradiso, Flora Bar) and Jess Stephens (Onda), along with the Sqirl pastry team of Sasha Piligian, Cat Flores and Krista Hernandez. The theme of both the pastries and the booklet is nostalgia.
What desserts are in these chefs’ memory palaces?
For Kanan, apricot-poppy kolach; for Jarvis, pretzel Jell-O salad and chocolate poke cake; for Posey, silver white cake and buckwheat banana bread; for Pickowicz, Chinese herbed pancakes and California linzer; for Stephens, turmeric concha filled with lemon curd; for Piligian, cherry pie, a creamy push-pop and Armenian cookies; and from the Sqirl crew, boysenberry jam.
“This started because I wanted to bring more awareness to pastry,” said Koslow, who says that in her experience pastry chefs don’t have the chance to get away and collaborate as much as savory chefs do, and instead talk to each other through social media rather than in person.
She envisions P.A.N. as a way to bring those pastry chefs together, both physically and emotionally, for causes they believe in: Proceeds from this Saturday’s event will benefit the Yellowhammer Fund, which provides funding for those seeking care at one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics, as well as the James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. (Each event will have different pastry chefs, and different causes.)
Pastry chefs “are trying to develop their own language within a meal,” says Koslow, who’s already lining up people for the next event. “You have a sommelier, a chef de cuisine, a bar manager; a pastry chef is part of the legs that hold up the chair.”
P.A.N., Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sqirl, 720 N. Virgil Ave., #4, Los Angeles, (323) 284-8147. $50 tickets here.