Laura Pyles: West Coast’s best new pastry chef

  • Written by Shannon Michael Staff Writer
Laura Pyles
Courtesy Photo Laura Pyles
When Laura Pyles graduated from Woodinville High School in 2001, she had her sights set on a psychology degree from the University of Washington. Working in restaurant kitchens through college, however, set her career path in a different direction.

Upon graduating from the UW, she attended the Culinary Institute of America, specializing in baking and pastry.

After stints at Seattle’s Dahlia Bakery, Ballard’s Bastille Café & Bar and Queen Anne’s Book Bindery, she became the pastry chef for Revel and Joule, two Korean fusion restaurants located in Seattle’s Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods.

Now, Pyles’ eclectic offerings of desserts at Revel and Joule have garnered her national attention in the food world.

Food & Wine magazine recently announced Pyles was voted People’s Choice Best New Pastry Chef on the West Coast. It is her first culinary award.

Food & Wine had been tipped off to her baking skills from their network of journalists, chefs and food industry insiders when they were seeking recommendations.

A few of their editors, being fans of Revel and Joule’s chef/owners Rachel Yang and Seif Cherchi, visited the restaurants to sample Pyles’ desserts, and they came away impressed.

“Laura is a very talented and dedicated pastry chef who does pastries for both Revel and Joule. She is really great at coming up with unique flavor combination using various techniques. She delivers exciting and eclectic and yet comforting and uncomplicated desserts,” said chef/owners Rachel Yang and Seif Cherchi.

The process of earning the recognition was lengthy. The magazine contacted Pyles late last year for a phone interview. She was told in January she was a nominee.

She found out she’d won the honor when she awoke April 9 to a string of text messages on her phone from well-wishers across the country who had seen the winners posted on the magazine’s website earlier in the morning.

Her parents, Woodinville residents Bob and Linda Pyles, receive admiring credit from their daughter.

“I come from a long line of people who are enthusiastic about food. It wasn’t uncommon in our house to be sitting down to one dinner and already talking about what we would have for our next one. My parents are both great cooks, and my mom always kept my brother and me interested in what she was whipping up in the kitchen,” said Laura.

“We were both delighted and very proud that she received this recognition.  One of the benefits of being the parents of a pastry chef is that we can enjoy the desserts she makes for us when she comes home to visit in Woodinville,” her dad Bob Pyles said.

Pyles has been working for Revel and Joule since April 2012 where she develops and frequently changes the dessert and brunch menus.

“Both restaurants lean towards Asian, more specifically Korean flavors, and it’s a lot of fun exploring herbs, fruits, teas and other ingredients I’ve never really used before,” said Pyles.

To gain inspiration, she is always looking for new cookbooks and revisiting old favorites.

She keeps up with current trends through cooking magazines and blogs, plus eating out at new places as much as she can.

Because the menu at Revel changes every month, it’s hard for Pyles to choose her favorite dessert, but admitted, “It would probably be the peanut butter pie with potato chip crust and roasted cocoa nib butter. I love sweet and salty combinations!”

Part of the fun of creating new offerings each month is that Pyles gets to experiment with different ingredients that are often seasonal.

“Jasmine is probably my favorite of the moment because it pairs so beautifully with the fruit that is starting to come in. It tastes like spring, so light and refreshing,” she said.

Looking back to her Woodinville High School and college days, Pyles offered some advice to students who aspire to have a career in the food industry.

“It’s important to get a job or internship somewhere and try it out!,” she offered, adding that aspiring chefs might find they like working in a bakery rather than a restaurant, or vice versa. “There are a lot of other more specific areas to choose from,” she explained, “but you won’t know until you give it a shot.”

It’s a good thing Pyles gave being a pastry chef a shot. Seattle area diners are the lucky benefactors of that career choice.

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