Buccan Hires Antonia Grandberry as Pastry Chef (Photos)

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When it comes to cooking, not all courses are created the same. Sure, a topnotch chef could probably make an amazing cake -- and probably way better than anything you're going to make -- but cooking and baking are two completely different things.

And there's nothing like dessert prepared by a pastry chef.

One of Palm Beach's most highly acclaimed restaurants has recently upped its A-game. Buccan has brought in pastry chef Antonia Grandberry to run its dessert program.

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James Beard-nominated executive chef/partner Clay Conley, along with partners Sam Slattery and Piper Quinn, brought in the eatery's first pastry chef, Antonia Grandberry, earlier this summer.

After four years of managing the bread and dessert internally, Conley decided it was time to branch out with a full-time pastry person.

"As our group grew, it became clear we needed someone to focus on the pastry program exclusively. Plus, it was time to elevate our desserts to the next level," explained Conley. "Chef Antonia's desserts perfectly complement our style of food. They are decadent and flavorful but balanced and full of contrast. Having a chef onboard in this specific capacity really enhances our pastry program; we are very excited to have her."

Grandberry's most recent post was at BLT Steak in Miami Beach. While she's still living in Miami, her decision to move into the Palm Beach scene was a great move.

"Making a career move from Miami to Palm Beach has been the best thing I've ever done," says Grandberry. "I feel more part of a family, a team of strong culinarians who take pride in every plate, from start to finish."

A Georgia native, Grandberry incorporates her Southern background into her desserts. But after spending years working in the Miami scene, she's developed the ability to blend tropical flavors and local ingredients into her dishes.

"I'm from Atlanta, Georgia, so many of my desserts are Southern-inspired," says Grandberry. "When I moved to Miami, I had to change my style completely because many of the clientele demanded tropical desserts and liked me to utilize local tropical fruit, including mango, starfruit, and papaya. This is the opposite of my style, but it put my versatility to good use. Even though I was able to learn a lot about a different dessert style, Buccan's clientele makes me feel as though I can be more true to the types of desserts I'm best at creating."

Expect to see a constantly changing assortment of items, like popcorn sundae with bourbon bacon crackerjack, salted caramel, and chocolate crumble. Butterscotch-soaked carrot cake is topped with cream cheese sauce and vanilla ice cream. Crème fraîche panna cotta is combined with lemon-macerated strawberries, strawberry sherbet, and black pepper shortbread. Grandberry's blondie is topped with brown-sugar chocolate-chip ice cream, chocolate espresso cookies, and chipped cream. Grown Up Cookies & Milk is made of brown butter and chocolate chunk cookies with a Bailey's milk shake. Unless otherwise noted, desserts are $9.

"I would describe my style as traditional yet modern with a playful twist," says Grandberry. "I take old favorites like the strawberry shortcake or the apple pie and ask myself, how can I renew this dish? How can I add elements of surprise while staying true to the pure nostalgia of the dessert? I may use bacon and pair it with bourbon and chocolate to be modern but relatable, or I may take strawberries and pair them with crème fraîche and black pepper for a sweet twist on a traditionally savory concept or just really get wacky and use fruity pebbles cereal or salty potato chips as a playful garnish."

Buccan is located at 350 S. County Road in Palm Beach. Call 561-833-3450, or visit buccanpalmbeach.com.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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