Whitledge, Brunch Debut at Libertine

DSCN0334 copy
Two dead grandmothers and a swimmer’s background equals a pastry chef with a delicate sense of all things baking, whether breads or patries. That would be Lauren Whitledge, who brings the work ethic of a long-distance swimmer and the baking passion of her grandmothers to the culinary arts.
“I have no doubt that my background in swimming has aided my growth considerably in what is a highly demanding and unforgiving industry,” the 29-year-old Whitledge says.
Whitledge, a 2006 graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., lands with the Black Squirrel and Libertine restaurants after stints at DC Coast Restaurant, the Liaison Hotel’s Art and Soul Restaurant, and Ps7’s Restaurant. Whitledge has shown a remarkable versatility since joining the group on a limited basis in the spring. She left her fingerprints on the specialty- cocktail and draft-cocktail menus at Libertine. She also has developed Libertine’s abbreviated brunch menu that will debut this Sunday, which is Adams Morgan Day.
“It’s an opportune moment to have my products in front of a such a large audience,” the Evansville, Ind., native says.
It was in the Hoosier State that Whitledge found herself spending long hours in a swimming pool, before and after school, chasing the unyielding acceptance of a stopwatch.
“It was an education that has proved useful in so many areas,” Whitledge says. “The purpose is in the pursuit, of realizing that even if you do not meet all your goals each day, you do not surrender. You start all over again the next day.”
Whitledge found meaning in the kitchen at a young age, honed in large part by both of her grandmothers. The grandmother on her father’s side of the family was especially influential, a baker extraordinaire who, near the end of her life, started what came to be known in the family as “clairvoyant baking.”
She was the church congregation person tasked with baking pecan pies for grieving family members. Hers was a labor of love, with a dash of extra sensory perception, for sometimes she would awaken and decide to bake a pecan pie before, eerily, receiving a telephone phone call later in the day confirming the death of a community member. Whitledge adopted the recipe of her grandmother’s chocolate meringue pie, or “magical chocolate meringue pie,” as she puts it.
Baking as art . . . It so happens Whitledge’s high school art teacher suggested she attend culinary school after she made a habit of bringing cinnamon rolls to the classroom, in effect, combining her interest in baking and art.

About blacksquirrel

Speak Your Mind

You must be logged in to post a comment.