Executive Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta
Lasheeda Perry grew up in Philadelphia and was introduced to the world of culinary arts at age 15. A discerning culinary teacher, Mrs. Stephenson, introduced Perry to Careers Through Culinary Arts (C-CAP), a program that helps train under-served students who express an interest in hospitality. In 2012 she appeared on Food Network’s “Sweet Genius,” ultimately winning the competition. Before moving to Atlanta in 2016, she was the executive pastry chef for Bon Appétit Management Company, which provides catering to Google and LinkedIn, among other high-profile companies.
What do you love most about being a pastry chef?
Wow, where do I begin! I love food, especially desserts. Most of my pastry friends don’t have a sweet tooth, but I will [plan] my entire meal around dessert. What I love most about being a pastry chef at Four Seasons Atlanta is the ability to do more [than just work in the hotel’s kitchen]. I have the opportunity to assist with community outreach programs by being a mentor to elementary students. I have always had a love for math and food science. Essentially, those two subjects are the foundation for baking and pastry arts, which makes things really fun for the kids!
What’s something that may surprise people about your job?
As the executive pastry chef, I oversee the entire pastry department, so that includes all pastries and desserts for in-room dining, banquets, Bar Margot, Park 75 and anywhere else within the hotel.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Everywhere! Friends, family, music, paintings—you name it. It’s important for me to be very open-minded because inspiration comes in so many different forms. For example, the Biscoff Cream pie was inspired by my one-way Delta flight from California to Atlanta. As a passenger, you’re given Biscoff cookies, and boom, that sparked the idea. The Dulce de Leche cake was inspired by a random act of kindness from the front desk manager here at Four Seasons. He gave me a bottle of dulce de leche from his home country of Argentina. I was inspired to make a nostalgic American dessert, so a dulce de leche lava cake came to mind.
What was it like being on a Food Network show?
The hardest part was memorizing the recipes that I deemed important for the show. No recipes were allowed during the taping! I didn’t know what I would have to make, so I wanted to make sure I had a bank of recipes I remembered. My favorite part was that it felt like an actual live food game. To be honest, I had this preconceived notion that it was fake, meaning it wasn’t timed, and they would let us know beforehand what we would be required to make. That wasn’t the case; it was 100% real! I don’t know if it necessarily shaped my career, but it definitely helped me to fully realize my potential.
What’s the best treat you’ve created?
The Roasted Berry S’mores. It’s nostalgic, but with a twist. Imagine a soft, dark chocolate ganache, house-made graham cracker, toasted marshmallow ice cream and warm, roasted berries.
What’s your favorite ingredient to use, and why?
This is such a tough question! If I were making an Asian-inspired dessert, then it would be ube (purple sweet potato). It’s purple, fun, tasty and it pairs well with other Asian ingredients such as matcha and coconut. Since I’m in the South, bourbon is currently my favorite ingredient. I just love how bourbon is a natural fit for an array of desserts, especially chocolate, banana and caramel. I love putting booze in my desserts. My all-around, must-have ingredient is lemons. In my opinion, lemon is the salt of pastry.
STORY: Lia Picard
Photos: Nathan Bolster