New Pastry Chef Brings Gluten-Free Innovation To Sbraga
Chef Kevin Sbraga has found his culinary match in the kitchen with the arrival of executive pastry chef Monica Glass. With an impressive background that includes time at Le Bernardin, 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge in the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia, Gotham Bar and Grill, and Chef Ken Oringer’s Clio, Glass’s out of the box creativity melds perfectly with Sbraga’s “no boundaries” approach to cooking.
The Pennsylvania native brings a fresh direction and skill set to her new role, most notably honed following her most recent two-and-a-half years as pastry chef at Boston’s esteemed restaurants Clio and Uni. An enthusiast of fresh markets and excursions to Chinatown, Glass constantly searches for unusual ingredients to take center-stage in her dessert creations. It was her ability to think on her feet and go beyond the ordinary that interested Sbraga.
“Chef Kevin encourages whimsy and innovation, but still staying true to dishes that people can identify and feel an element of comfort with,” says Glass. “It excited me to take on a position where I am challenged to develop the desserts for a collection of restaurants with such different personalities.”
As further proof of her adaptability, Glass was diagnosed with celiac disease halfway through her career, which forced her to reevaluate her viability as a pastry chef. Instead of switching paths, she embraced the challenge, and began to experiment with gluten-free pastry and breads.
“The focus on gluten-free is not a trend that will one day disappear, so it’s important for us to find new ways to grow and adapt,” Glass says. “My goal is to make the gluten-free options taste just as delicious as the ’real thing,’ and not single out one dessert. Even with dietary restrictions, guests should feel welcome and a part of the conversation regardless of what they are choosing to eat.”
“Monica has talent, creativity, and personality,” says Sbraga. “She is a unique thinker, both when it comes to bucking the stigma of the term gluten-free, and when it comes to the flavors and techniques she applies to the pastry program. We heard she was making the move to Philadelphia, and with all the incredible restaurants here right now, we are honored she chose to come work with us.”
On her debut dessert menu at his namesake restaurant Sbraga, dishes include:
- Chocolate Crème: caramelized coconut, fermented banana, banana sorbet
- Honeysuckle Parfait: cucumber sherbet, buckwheat, rhubarb
- Local Strawberries: chamomile, poppyseed, bee pollen
After graduating from Penn State where cooking was just a hobby, Glass moved to New York City to embark on a career in public relations. After a few years in the corporate world, she switched paths to pursue her passion for pastry full-time, and took on an externship with executive pastry chef Deborah Racicot of Gotham Bar and Grill. After seven months, Glass was offered a full-time job, which would be the foundation for her growth as a pastry chef. Glass leads the pastry program and the extensive bread program at the Sbraga Dining restaurants, applying her expertise to encompass gluten-free bread and dessert options.