Jason Licker’s resume reads like a “best of” list of New York restaurants – The Union Square Café, Jean-Georges, Métrazur – and he’s even made an impression in trendy Miami where he helped Kim O’Flaherty open the Shore Club Hotel’s Nobu and Serena in South Beach “from the ground up.” An alumnus of the French Culinary Institute, Andre Schott’s Chocolate Loft and the French Pastry School, Jason Licker now brings new life into the hotel dining world as Executive Pastry Chef of The Peninsula New York’s Fives restaurant. His current dessert menu includes exotic creations like a Dulce De Leche Chocolate Tart with Banana Five Spice Ice Cream and Milk Chocolate Caramel Layer Cake with Toffee Crunch and Coriander Anglaise, along with amazing twists on classics like Passion Fruit Crème Brulee and vibrant Petit Fours. Chef Licker’s menu seems to be a direct reflection of his personality: creative, fun and quite agreeable. I was reintroduced to Chef Licker after posting his recipe for Grapefruit and Campari Gelée on this site, and he generously volunteered to share his experiences in the pastry world. So for the experts who already admire his work, and the legions of pastry lovers hoping to follow in his footsteps one day, here’s what Jason had to say:
Why did you become a pastry chef?
My family and I have always been food freaks. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer and placed on a special diet I discovered my true calling and passion. She could only eat low sugar and low fat items and (at that time) there was no place to buy anything like that. So, I took a blueberry muffin recipe and instead of butter I used applesauce and cut the sugar and it came out TERRIBLE! But, it was fun, and I thought, “I enjoy this!” and I started researching, reading and became obsessed with pasty. Pastry is a form of expression, art and damn good to eat!
Favorite dessert? (Are you still a “peanut butter freak”?)
My favorite dessert…..so many! I would have to admit, anything with peanut butter! I love chocolate, but peanut butter is my kryptonite! I love a peanut butter dessert with some crunch in it. I do a Peanut Butter Crunch Cake (Peanut Daquiose, Feulltine Layer, Peanut Nutter Cream and Milk Chocolate Cream with Toffee Crunch on Top). It will send you straight to the hospital!
Favorite place in NYC for dessert?
Tough Question! I like Vicki Wells at Mesa Grill and Bolo. I like Pichet Ong at Spice Market. I like Sam Mason at WD-50. Too many to list.
Has working as a pastry chef affected your desire to eat dessert?
Hmm, I do get cravings at times and go crazy, but I usually only eat dessert at a fine dining restaurant, otherwise, you would have to roll me into work.
What time do you wake up in the morning?
I wake up at 7:45 am and straight to the gym.
What do pastry chefs do for fun?
Well, of course go out for great meals and see what’s going on in the food business. We also go out with good friends for some cocktails, go to Barnes and Noble and check out the new books and of course go to pastry shops, chocolate shops and restaurants to see what’s going on.
What’s new for spring?
I think spring will bring flavorful, light desserts. There seems to be a trend to more homey desserts. When the weather gets nice, people want something light and refreshing that’s still indulgent.
Thank you Jason!
The Peninsula New York
700 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, New York, NY 10019
Reservations: (212) 903-3918