Sugar High

BY Carolina Buia | May 7, 2018 | Feature Features

How does a girl from the French isles find herself 5,000 miles away on the island of Palm Beach? Well, talent has no boundaries: Meet Julie Franceschini, the wunderkind behind some of South Florida's most eloquent desserts. Café Boulud's exquisite executive pastry chef is the reason you'll finish your three-course meal.
Citrus baba, Key lime chantilly and ginger ice cream

Tell us about your summer dessert menu.
Summer is all about fruits and feeling refreshed. Florida summers are about delicious peaches, nectarines, apricots and berries. I’m featuring airy raspberry mousse capsules and mixed berries atop chocolate sablé and meringue crumble. Then there is my personal favorite, a rectangular baba cake. I substitute ginger liqueur for rum. It’s garnished with fresh sliced citrus gems, crystallized ginger, Key lime zest, chantilly cream and homemade ginger ice cream. In Corsica, strawberry tree berry sweets are popular in summer. They look like lychees and have a unique taste. I’m including this Corsican flavor in liquors and jams. My mother brought me the first harvest of these berries in sous vide packets this May, and I’m excited to share them with Palm Beach. I will also feature strawberry tree honey this summer—it’s amazing!

You are known for your modern-art plating. What inspires you?
I’m a geometric thinker, and I love getting ideas from pictures and art. Most pastry chefs start with one ingredient. I work backward: I think of interlocking shapes and draw them out on paper. Once I have a blueprint, I fill it with colors, flavors and products. I make sure the flavors complement one another and that the colors are striking. After all, you eat first with your eyes.

If you were not in the kitchen, you would be…
In the operating room. I was a pre-med student, thinking about becoming a doctor. But food was such a part of our family life in Corsica. I was always in the kitchen with my mom and grandmothers. In my hometown, women rule the kitchen—they bring people together; they create happiness. One day, my mother suggested I drop the scalpel and grab the whisk. So, off I went to culinary school and to work in some of France’s top restaurants. And now I’m in Palm Beach. Life is sweet.

What do you say to the guest who wants to skip dessert?
[Laughs] What? That is like watching a brilliant film and then missing the last 15 minutes. You hang in there for almost the entire movie, but then you leave before it ends? Oh no. You’ll always be left wondering and regretting. Eat less next time, but don’t even think about skipping [my] desserts.

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