The most successful restaurants in town are always supported by a host of people who often go under-recognized by the general public. It takes a slew of talented folks to make the entire dining experience exceptional. One notable position within this group is the pastry chef. Often responsible for closing the meal on a high note, these respected chefs deserve more recognition than they often get. At Forty Two, the restaurant within the Clinton Presidential Library, Chef Anne Wood oversees a team of young pastry personnel, ensuring that every sweet spoonful is satisfactory and up to standard. We sat down with Anne to get to know her a little better, here, in our latest Food Insider. Check out Anne’s delightful pastries and desserts daily on the menu at Forty Two.
What’s your job title?
Executive Pastry Chef at Forty Two
How long have you been at the Clinton Center?
It will be six years in July
Have you worked anywhere before Forty Two?
I worked as a line cook/breakfast chef at The Peabody Hotel right after culinary school for three months before coming to the Clinton Center.
Where did you do your training?
I went to school at Pulaski Technical Culinary School.
Are you an Arkansas native?
I’m originally from Texas. I moved to Arkansas with my family when I was young. I’ve been in Little Rock for 12 years.
What are some of your most popular desserts at Forty Two?
Our dessert menu changes weekly but some of our favorites have been the Warm Chocolate Torte with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Churros with Hot Chocolate Ganache and our Made to Order Donut Holes
What’s one thing about your job that might surprise other people?
It surprises people when I tell them that I get to create desserts for the Clintons when they are here in the city.
What’s one of the most challenging aspects of your job?
It gets challenging trying to come up with new and fresh ideas for our menu, but that’s part of why I love it so much. I love coming up with new recipes. It keeps me on my toes.
Have you had any interesting celebrity encounters at Forty Two?
I’ve had several celebrity encounters…from local TV personalities, politicians, fashion designers, and major movie stars. I better not name names, but I can say that it’s a fantastic perk to an already great job!
What’s one thing that customers definitely need to order off the Forty Two dessert menu?
Everyone should try our bread pudding. The flavor changes a lot but it’s always great! Right now it’s Blueberries and Cream. Also, my homemade moon pies are pretty yummy as well. They don’t make the restaurant menu very often but you can find them on our catering menu.
Where do you like to eat around town?
With four kids, I don’t get out very often but I do love to eat at ZaZa’s and Gusano’s. I love pizza! I also love Three Fold Noodles & Dumplings.
Who are some chefs (pastry or non) that you really respect around town?
I have a lot of respect for how talented and successful Scott McGehee is. He probably doesn’t remember me, but he was one of my instructors during my first year of culinary school years ago. I admire him a lot. I also think Jan Lewandowski is amazing. She’s so very talented. She’s the owner of Blue Cake Company and an instructor at the culinary school. And of course, Chef Gilbert Alaquinez (executive chef at Forty Two). Gilbert has amazing talent and is very creative. I love working with him and he’s great to collaborate with.