Grace Cayre Shalom & The Brilliance Behind Sweet Sweet City
It was a few years ago that I had the privilege of working with Grace Cayre Shalom, the master chef behind Sweet Sweet City. I was hosting my husband’s 50th birthday at my home, in which I took pride in cooking everything myself. Since my place in the kitchen does not include expertise in the baking department, I wanted to seek out the best desserts I could find. Grace was very thoughtful as we curated the dessert menu. I knew already by her precise questions she inquired,that I was in for an impeccable dessert table. Sure enough, she surpassed every expectation. Not only were each dessert absolutely beautiful, dainty and perfect looking, but so delicious! In my opinion, her work ranks with the top patissiers globally.
As I continued to follow Grace and her path with Sweet Sweet City, I have been elated to see how she continues to grow her culinary expertise and share her amazing talent with cooking and baking techniques using the freshest ingredients, kitchen tricks, and shares delicious recipes so graciously.
It is such an honor to welcome her to The Joyful Approach. Watch out for delicious easy to follow recipes that Grace will share with us.
Founder: Grace Cayre Shalom
Can you give a description of what Sweet Sweet City is comprised of ?
SSC is an Instagram account comprised of photos of food and desserts I’ve cooked, baked, styled, recipes and culinary inspiration.
When was SweetSweetCity launched and how has it evolved?
SSC was launched in 2013 when I started working for my friend Jennifer Sitt. She had recently launched a catering company and needed someone to bake home made desserts for her. At that point I was just baking as a hobby but she really encouraged me to turn it into a profession.
Until today she is a huge inspiration of mine and a super talented chef. After I did a few events with her, people started calling me and ordering desserts for bridal showers, baby showers, engagements and all kinds of events! Simultaneously, I launched an Instagram to display my work and gain potential clients.
It evolved when I had two children and was no longer able to continue the volume of work I was doing. I realized that when I posted photo’s of the food I was making, many of my followers reached out for the recipe. Now I share a lot of my recipes and my tips and tricks in addition to photos of things that inspire me.
Can you share both your education in the arts and your culinary education?
I started out as an Art History major at Marymount in New York City. As a requirement for my Bachelor’s degree I studied studio art as well. During college, I spent month abroad in Paris studying art but also eating my way through the city and getting inspiration everywhere! I think that month abroad really shaped me as an adult. I learned so much from the French. They are so passionate and the process is so important to them. They don’t cut corners for profit like people do in the states. Ask a Frenchman about a piece of bread he will go on for an hour talking about it! I love that!
After college, I went to The New York School of interior design to study architecture and design. I spent two years drafting elevations and sections by hand and studying all aspects of the history of design. When I got home from school I spent a lot of time baking and reading about baking techniques. I took a few classes at Institute of Culinary education but I’ve never been formally trained as a pastry chef. I am self taught. I realized that although I love to learn about art and design, It wasn’t something that I wanted to practice on a daily basis.
What is most important to you with your process in creating?
The process of creating something from nothing has always given me great satisfaction. I love to see something through from start to finish. I always PLAN. That is the first and most important step to creating something beautiful. I go through every step and I write it down on a piece of paper. I make sure I have all my ingredients on hand and the proper equipment. I like to take my time when I work and do things in steps instead of all at once, especially when I am attempting to tackle something complicated.
Another important thing about creativity is not being afraid of failure. I think failure is a huge part of the process of creating. You will never create something different or something new if you follow someone else’s path. I cant tell you how many times I’ve thrown out something I have been working on because I experimented with a new ingredient or a new technique. It’s really frustrating until I get it the way I want it. It’s all part of the process though, and it pays off in the end. I don’t settle for good enough. I always try to give everything I do my all.
How do you manage the balance of working with giving your full dedication to SweetSweetCity and also being a super mom?
Honestly its really hard. Being a parent is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I take my job as a mother very seriously and my children are my first priority. On the other hand I think it’s important for parents to show their children what it is to to be passionate about things and to appreciate the value of hard work. My mother is an extremely goal oriented and passionate person. As a child she would take me to Paris and we would wander the streets searching for all sorts of things she was interested in. She was always on the hunt for something unique and original. My mom sees beauty in everything and that has rubbed off on me. I hope that the passion that I have for what I do will rub off on my children and inspire them to find what makes them happy and fulfilled!
What are some of your favorite ingredients to cook and bake with?
My style of cooking and baking is really simple. For me, it all starts with the freshest seasonal ingredients of the highest quality. I don’t start with a recipe. I let the local, seasonal produce inspire my cooking. If its fall, I’m working with apples, pears and pumpkins. I’m making soups, using braising techniques and roasting. I look forward to summers bounty and make pies with stone fruits and fresh berries. I also live to grill on my BBQ and cook entire meals outside.
My favorite ingredients to cook with are lemon zest and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint and tarragon.) For baking I love Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla bean paste and almond extract. I also love baking with liqueurs like Amaretto, an almond based liqueur and Fra Angelico which is a hazelnut liqueurs. Sometimes, I add a splash of Pear Williams (a colorless fruit brandy) into my buttercream frosting. It gives it a little something special that you can’t really put your finger on.
What is your all time favorite dish and dessert you’ve been most proud of creating?
My specialty in the dessert realm are graham cracker based tarts. I love the crumbly texture of the crust juxtaposed with a creamy filling. Mixing different textures is the key to a great dessert. I make tarts filled with chocolate mousse, home made vanilla pudding, ganache or even cheesecake. I even love baking vegan tarts! In reality, I try and be proud of all the work I put out! I believe in giving things 110% or not bothering to do something at all.
How do you think SSC is aligned with living a joyful lifestyle?
I think that SSC is aligned with living a joyful lifestyle because although our passions may be different our process is the same. When ever we start out with a project we set our intentions, we journal and we set a clear path for achieving goals.