Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Restaurants

Interview: Tyler Rose, pastry chef at Iberian Rooster and Proper, tells a tale of two bakeries

ST. PETERSBURG — Amid the flurry of the holiday season, one local woman is involved in the opening of two restaurants.

Tyler Rose, 22, a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Tampa, is behind the dessert menus at Iberian Rooster and Proper Kitchen & Cocktails, both open now.

A self-proclaimed Army brat who recently returned to her parents' stomping grounds of St. Petersburg, Rose spends 60 hours a week ordering, prepping, stocking, plating and serving everything from rice puddings to banana breads to chocolate tortes.

Recently, the chef took a short break — peppered with questions from co-workers about unit prices and supply orders — to talk to us about desserts, her marriage to a personal trainer and her experience as a recent college graduate in two large kitchens.

How did you get into baking? Was it always the plan?

Absolutely not. I originally wanted to be an oceanographer. I took oceanography classes at community college and I was like, "Oh, this is totally what I'm going to do," and then I got a kitchen job up in Tallahassee. It was a Mexican place [Bandidos Burrito Company], and Mexican is my favorite food, so I fell in love with working there and the people that I worked with. And so then I started thinking about it, and I've always made stuff at home, cupcakes, pies, cakes, things like that. So I was like, "Maybe I should do that instead." It comes a lot more naturally.

You're the pastry chef at two restaurants, which opened very close to each other around the holidays. What has that process been like?

This past week I was doing 10-hour shifts at Rooster and then I was coming here in the afternoons for four hours and baking more. So I wasn't home until 9 p.m., and I was just spent. I like to start really early, so between 5 and 6 a.m. I'll be in the kitchen and then I usually leave between 2 and 4 p.m. It's filled with cakes and brownies and pies and cobblers and everything you could imagine.

The dessert menu at Iberian Rooster is adventurous, with matcha crepe cakes and tamarind mousse bombs. At Proper, it's cobbler and corn bread. How did you come up with the menus?

They're two completely different concepts. (At Iberian Rooster) we have the hot dog buns that we do, we do the brioche, we do all the stuff in the case. (At Proper) we're doing corn bread and hush puppies, cobbler, bread pudding, this mousse KitKat kind of thing. (At Rooster), owner Russell (Andrade) said, "You have full (rein) over the case, over the dessert menu. ... Have at it." (At Proper), it was pretty simple. I knew what I was going to start making when I walked in. Traditional Southern desserts.

You have said you draw a lot of inspiration from the baking you did with your grandma when you were younger. Were these desserts things you grew up with, or did you learn them in school?

It's pretty much a mix of it. Cobblers, tarts, pies, stuff like that, that's what I was doing with my grandma. The crepe cakes, the mousses, stuff like that I learned after school or while I was in school. It's all experimental; if it doesn't work out two or three times, it's tossed.

You spend so much time at the restaurants that you don't really bake at home. Do you have any complaints about that? Is your husband a big dessert eater?

Not really. He's a personal trainer, so he's like, "Refined sugar is bad," and I'm like, "Thanks for bashing my whole career." But he loves anything I bring home. He'll destroy it.

What's your favorite dessert?

Probably chocolate cake. You can't go wrong, especially if it's filled with raspberry. Game over.

Where do you see yourself a couple of years from now?

I want to open my own place. I think that's everyone's dream. I have so many ideas that would be new to St. Pete. I do want to do a bakery, but I want to do a cafe, and I want to do a food truck. I think I would probably go more in-depth with it, more pastries, more Danishes, croissants.

Contact Carlynn Crosby at [email protected]

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