Our Villager of the month is Sherry Blockinger - the amazing dessert chef behind Chappaqua's Sherry B Dessert Studio. After our first experience tasting Sherry's delicious creations some time ago, we knew we had to incorporate her products in our menu. The heavenly ice cream we serve, in addition to the spiced syrup (used in an Old Fashioned), have Sherry B written all over them (literally). Having just been awarded "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie" from Westchester Magazine, we knew it was time to get personal with Sherry.
CS: Any particular reason why you chose Chappaqua to be the home of your business?
SB: There are so many reasons! I grew up in Rockland and went to middle school and high school in Westchester so the area is near and dear to me. In fact, I was a drummer in a band in high school and our first gig was a Greeley graduation party.
My husband Jeff and I own the building that houses sbds and Chappaqua Wine & Spirits. The building was neglected and in disrepair, a real eyesore right in the middle of town. We took it down to the studs (and then some!) and rebuilt it to be the amazing space it is today. Our hope was to inspire other building owners and merchant tenants to follow suit and begin to beautify downtown Chappaqua, revive the restaurant and shopping scene and become a cultural hub for northern Westchester and the Hudson valley.
CS: What sets a dessert studio apart from a traditional bakery?
SB: I love this question. There is almost nothing about sbds that resembles a bakery, except, of course, desserts. My background as a pastry chef is in restaurants and recipe and product development. The idea for the studio evolved from my training and is representative of the convergence of my passions. I was a communications major and art & design minor in college. I studied drums and percussion from the age of 10 through high school (I still love to play when I can find the time) and to this day music frames my life. I had jobs in broadcasting and marketing communications and global branding before attending culinary school. You could say it took me a minute to find my way, but it lead to the idea and creation of sbds. The studio is a place that celebrates the intersection of food and art. Pastry is an art form. I have so much respect and admiration for my colleagues who strive to achieve the perfect blend of art and science to create magnificent desserts. It is not unlike an artist's process. By creating the studio, I have a platform to showcase not only my work in pastry but the work of other up and coming and established chefs, artists and artisans across every genre.
CS: Is baking a skill that was passed down to you through your family or is this a passion of your own?
SB: I definitely have fond memories of baking and cooking with my family. Rainy days equal chocolate chip cookies with my mom and my brother and making waffles with my dad on Sunday mornings was always special. My interest in, and passion for, baking happened later for me. I studied Nutrition in college and was fascinated which lead to a desire to learn to cook and bake. I believe that in every person lies an inherent cook or baker. I'm an insane perfectionist. I love symmetry, organization, precision. At the same time, I have a vivid imagination and curiosity. I love art and design in all forms. I am such a pastry chef.
CS: Which are some of your most popular desserts?
SB: This answer changes seasonally, if not daily. On warmer days, naturally, ice cream is a big hit. Rainy days are brownie days. Celebrations bring on the cupcakes and custom cakes. For me, every day is a cookie day!
CS: It seems that fad creations are always popping up in the world of sweets, from cake-pops to cronuts. In your opinion, is it more important to perfect the classics or create trendy “of the moment” items? Why?
SB: The answer, for me, lies in the balance. Classics are classic meaning always in style. Trends are hip and now, exciting and creative. I try to strike a balance between creative thinking and classic technique.
CS: You are about to have your last dessert on earth. What do you choose?
SB: This is almost too easy, like to an embarrassing extent... A big plate of chocolate chip cookies with a Chappaqua Station old fashioned and the Cookie Monster as my date. On jazz night, of course. Wait, can you make that happen?!