Melt Bakery, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Julian Plyter, Kareem Hamady, Pastry Chef, Lever House, Lure Fishbar,  Crosby Street Hotel, Cookies, Artisanal Ice Cream, Sandwiches, Recommendations, Pastry Recommendations, Dessert Recommendations, Where to eat dessert, New York, Manhattan, Markets, Purveyors, Food Purveyors, Vendors, Ice Cream Recommendations,

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Q. Tell us about melt and what makes your product unique?

A. Melt bakery was born on the Lower East Side over the last few months. I quit my job as a pastry chef and cashed in all my chips, while Kareem took on a ‘little side project’ that soon came to occupy every moment of his free time. We decided that the perfect product for our debut would be ice cream cookie sandwiches.

In addition to offering classic combinations, we want to push the flavor envelope. A great way to encourage people to be more adventurous gastronomically is to combine unexpected flavors and then offer them from the framework of something that’s so comfortable and familiar, and guaranteed to be delicious! 


Q. How do you come up with the flavors? What inspires your creativity?

A. Initially, I begin by pairing things that I like together - peanuts and beer, for instance - and finding ways to wrap them up together in a neat little package. Chocolate and coffee were a pretty easy one to accomplish, but getting pastis, which I'm wild about, into a cookie, took a little more experimenting.


Q. What inspires your creativity?

A. Our customers have been pretty vocal about flavors they’d like to see, and between listening to those suggestions and bouncing our own ideas around, we have a long list of flavors and fun projects ahead. To give you a little peek, right now we’re playing around with exciting new uses for baklava and fortune cookies. Lastly, I have a lot of kids in my life - nieces, nephews, and such - and you'd be amazed at the clever suggestions they make. 


Q. Where do you hope to take melt - are you thinking ice cream sandwich world domination?

A. Yes, world domination is definitely in our future. For now our plan is to open a small storefront, from which we can offer an unbeatable retail experience as well as a serious wholesale, corporate event and private party business. Taking orders now... hint hint!


Q. Any flavors that just didn’t pan out after your research and development phase of making the ice cream sandwiches?

A. Maybe we're lucky, but the things we've come up with so far have been right on target. I'm sure danger is lurking around a corner though, as we get more ambitious with flavors and combinations, so I'll have to keep you posted on that score! 


Q. What was the impetus to leave your high-profile pastry chef day job to pursue melt? Do you have any days where you think “what the *@#  have I done?”

A. One of the things that prompted me to leave my ‘real job’ was that I really missed interacting with people. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of interaction in a kitchen, probably too much most of the time! But one of the things that always satisfied me the most about baking was seeing how much it gratifies the people who eat the food. I ask myself questions like that all the time, but Kareem and I do a good job of keeping one another in check and motivating each other when needed. Plus, nothing beats the reassuring compliments of a satisfied customer – after all, without a great product we wouldn’t have anything to offer. 


Q. When making ice cream, the best way to avoid disaster is:

A. Start the process on a full stomach. You'll save money, calories, and avoid severe brain freeze-related injury. 


Q. Tool or ingredient you can’t live without?

A. I'm partial to good, old-fashioned wooden spoons. There's a reason they've been around for something like 2200 years. They just work. 


Q. Ingredient you can easily live without and in fact, think it’s worthless and over-rated?

A. Unsweetened chocolate. I'm certain this was developed solely as a mean trick to play on unsuspecting children. If you can't eat any of it, how much fun is baking really going to be!? 


Q. Prior to working in pastry, I always ate:

A. Chocolate. 


Q. But now I like:

A. Salty foods.


Q. However, I still crave (my guilty pleasure food):

A. chocolate chip cookies. No matter how many I bake in a day, if there aren't any at home, I always wish there were. 


Q. Best advice for the home baker is:

A. Turn the oven on before you even get your recipe out. It really does need to be preheated. Also, read the recipe all the way through before you start.




Q. What purveyors or shops inspire you and what do you love about them?

A. I love Di Palo, Russ and Daughters, Despana, and Milk Thistle Farms. What I love about all of them is that whenever you buy from them, no matter what it is, you can take quality as a foregone conclusion; you can feel the care that's gone into creating and purveying these foods, whether they're from Parma, Seville, or the Hudson Valley. 


Q. What restaurants in NYC have great desserts?

A. I'm into straightforward when it comes to dessert. I love the dessert menu at Tabla, and I'm never left wanting at Lupa. I've also been really impressed by the flan at Socarrat. There are so many bad flans out there, it's almost relieving to see one done so right. I know Kareem loves the pistachio semifreddo at Babbo, so it wouldn’t be fair not to throw that into the mix. Batali scores twice!! 


Q. What restaurants around the world (fancy or casual) do you love to visit for their pastry departments?

A. Le Bernardin right here in NYC has an incredible pastry department, and Chef Michael really rolls it out for every guest.


One of my favorite experiences abroad was visiting La Maison du Chocolat in Paris.


Also, in Besançon, France, La Tour de la Pelote managed to incorporate their dessert menu so effortlessly that the meal wouldn't have been the same without it. 


Q. Any bakeries you could recommend?

A. Sullivan Street is tops, stem to stern; those people just know how to bake.

I'm also a fan of Levain, on the UWS, when I'm in the mood for a behemoth, gooey wonder of a cookie.

Café Angelique, also, manages to roll out some pretty ridiculous croissantery. 


Q. Food markets around the world that you love and why?

A. I feel so lucky to live in a city with such awesome outdoor markets, with a great wealth of agriculture so close by. Montreal positively wooed me, too, with its stunning Marché Atwater, where I got nearly a gallon of incredible maple syrup for 20 bucks... Canadian!

The markets in Paris offer a stunning variety of quality food, but pretty much any market in Provence blows me away with its freshness and vibrance. Something about that Mediterranean air... 


Q. Favorite commercial ice cream?

A. I've always loved Perry's Ice Cream - it's an upstate NY brand that I grew up on, which still tastes like the real deal to me whenever I visit (it's always in Mom's freezer).


Q. Favorite small production artisanal ice cream?

A. As small producers go, I'm a big fan of Il Laboratorio del Gelato. I also had a tremendous cone at L’Arte del Gelato a few weeks ago – their hazelnut gelato knocked my socks off. 


Q. Who else in your field is doing interesting things that you think deserve more praise?

A. I've become a big fan of Boomtown Baked Goods. ‘Gluten-free’ is anathema to most bakers, and my own attempts at it have been, at the very best, frustrating. These gals manage to crank out a whole line of really excellent vegan and gluten free products. So good that when I eat them, I say ‘that's really good!’ – without appending ‘for gluten-free!’

 

Melt Bakery’s recommendations for where to eat and shop for food in Manhattan, Montreal, and France.

 

Melt Bakery’s recommendations for where to eat and shop for food in Manhattan, Montreal, and France.


Hester Street Fair (view map)

Sat - Sun: 10am - 6pm (April - December)

Website:

www.meltbakery.com