NYC Bali transplant and doyen of the pastry department, Will Goldfarb talks shop at his new venture Room4Dessert in Ubud. Indonesian spices of choice, the journey from Manhattan to Bali plus why he named a cheese plate after a Staten Island Hip Hop outfit. Welcome to the wonderfully weird world of pastry Jedi Will.
Room4Dessert – when did you throw the doors open and how’s the feedback so far?
Doors opened for my 39th birthday – 24 June 2014. The feedback has been incredible so far. Dessert bars are tricky, since they aren’t very common, so you have to show people that this was the kind of place they were always waiting for but didn’t know it. The cocktail reception has been surprisingly positive – people love our drinks!
What was the inspiration behind Room4Dessert in Manhattan?
I always wanted my own place, and for pastry chefs it’s pretty rare to get offered a chance to do that. I was going to take a bullshit private chef job and my wife said, absolutely no way! Instead I should open my own place and just try to make it awesome. So I did, and then oops, last year I did it again.
How did the Manhattan Bali transition come about?
My wife, who has endured all manner of exhaustion dealing with a Prima Donna like me, felt like the time was right for a change. I agreed with her and so we made plans to check out Bali. It was amazing. Actually we were supposed to move in 2008, but I got cancer in my leg, so we had to take care of that first before we could make the move to the island.
New York for 24 hours…where to eat?
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Oddfellows Ice Cream, St. Anselm,
Maison Premiere and Fish and Game in Hudson.
I suggest driving quickly.
Bali for 24 hours…where to eat?
Room4Dessert, Mejekawi/KUDETA, Merah Putih, Locavore, Cuca, Pica, Naughty Nuri’s, Ayam Betutu Rama.
Loneliness redux dessert: feather light cashew sponge, soy wafer, cardamon soy milk bubbles & cocoa
Are pastry chefs underrated in the kitchen hierarchy?
Not anymore. I think they were pre El Bulli – but having Albert Adria at the forefront of the creative process (and considering that many of the best chefs in the world apprenticed there at the time) put pastry chefs at the centre of what was previously a great information divide. Pastry chefs are in the right place for the kitchen hierarchy – valuable for information but not necessarily for sales.
Pairing desserts to wines and cocktails – how does this work?
I like to drink heavily – and I think that a nice strong drink balances out a dessert very well. We focus on bitterness in desserts and acidity in cocktails so it works handsomely together.
The single most important Indonesian spice in your kitchen is…
On naming a cheeseplate after the Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah.
No choice really due to the awesomeness of the 36 chambers – don’t forget it was a mashup of Ghostface Killah and Thomas Keller… who at the time released the ultimate wordplay restaurant name – Per Se, as in not The French Laundry, Per Se… Incidentally Ghostface Keller 2 – Liquid Curds is about to be released, early 2015…
The kind of customer that finds his way to you?
Desperate. Only joking. We have the best customer base in the world – We have the local Ubud expatriate creative community, Bali hospitality veterans, Local luxury hotel guests, UK filmmakers, Indonesian design crowd, Singapore hipsters, Hong Kong bankers, Australian foodies, Russian oligarchs, the Ubud Royal Family, Eat Pray Lovers from the USA… and a smattering of international tourists. We don’t concern ourselves with how many guests come, but rather how many want to come back.
Cooking for Keller, how was that experience?
Frightful, but inspiring.
Ansel’s milk and cookies invention. Foodie hype or the real deal?
Both. Everything Dominique does is amazing. Believe the hype, it’s a sequel.
In your fridge at home?
Coconut water, yogurt, granola, milk, tinned tomatoes, eggs, shallots, chilis.
Most exciting dining in the world for you right now is?
Blue Hill at Stone Barns or Bistrot De La Marine by Maximin.
Bali needs a proper BBQ joint. Keen?