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What Cerulean's pastry chef can do with junk-food snacks

Chefs Night Off grabs New York by the Beard

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You're looking at a dish constructed from Starbursts, Otter Pops and Cool Whip. - SARAH MURRELL
  • Sarah Murrell
  • You're looking at a dish constructed from Starbursts, Otter Pops and Cool Whip.


When RJ Wall was putting together his list of chefs to take to the James Beard House, he labored over all of them but one: Cerulean's pastry chef, Peter Schmutte. The joke was that "Schmutte could make dog shit look good on a plate." And while I wouldn't subject the chef to that kind of sick torture for NUVO readers' pleasure, I did track down the next-best thing. In the grand style of the now-famous Instagram Jacques le Merde (@jacqueslemerde), we dropped off a big sack of sugary junk food to see what he could do with the corn syrup "food."

But what drives Schmutte isn't even the look of his gorgeous creations. He just wants it to taste good.

"People are obsessed with eating food, but sometimes I think they're not really tasting it," Schmutte said about the social media-derived, looks-first trends being sported in some restaurants. Plating, he said, has become more important in some kitchens than flavor profiles, and he aims to make his own platings complementary to a complex, interesting layering of flavors.

Schmutte is one of the chefs headed to the James Beard House in New York City for tomorrow night's Chefs Night Off dinner, along with Aaron Butts from Joseph Decuis, Jonathan Brooks from Milktooth, David Tallent from Tallent, and Smoking Goose's Chris Eley. They're also taking Joshua Gonzales from Thunderbird to mix cocktails.

This is truly a high honor for all the chefs involved, like screening your independent movie for the Oscars guild. If you want to catch up on all the action and insanity, go to NUVO.net/food and follow my blog. In the meantime, enjoy these pieces of junk food art from Chef Schmutte.

This one's Fruit Roll-Ups, a Sno Ball, Jolly Rancher candies, Jello, Fruit by the Foot and Kool-Aid powder. - SARAH MURRELL
  • Sarah Murrell
  • This one's Fruit Roll-Ups, a Sno Ball, Jolly Rancher candies, Jello, Fruit by the Foot and Kool-Aid powder.

It's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, instant chocolate pudding, a Hershey Bar, Fruit Roll-Ups, Ho Hos and Pop-Tart Puree. - SARAH MURRELL
  • Sarah Murrell
  • It's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, instant chocolate pudding, a Hershey Bar, Fruit Roll-Ups, Ho Hos and Pop-Tart Puree.

The "raw" ingredients before transformation. - SARAH MURRELL
  • Sarah Murrell
  • The "raw" ingredients before transformation.

Event: James Beard House Viewing Party

When: Aug. 6, 7 p.m.

Where: Thunderbird, 1127 Shelby St.

What: Watch David Tallent, Jonathan Brooks, Christopher Eley, Joshua Gonzales, Arthur Black, Peter Schmutte and Aaron Butts represent at the James Beard House in NYC!

More info: chefsnightoffindy.com, facebook.com/ChefsNightOffIndianapolis


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