DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Isa Fabro
Restaurant: Orsa & Winston
How She Got Here: Fabro is a veteran of Los Angeles kitchens, having worked as a line cook for 12 years after ditching a job in the entertainment industry. She spent time with Patina Group restaurants and Downtown’s Water Grill.
Then, a little more than four years ago, she hurt her back. She knew a change was in order. “My body was telling me I couldn’t cook on the line anymore,” Fabro says.
Although she didn’t have a dessert background, she decided to pursue the field, and began searching for a restaurant that lived up to her fine-dining standards, not “something dumbed down where it’s about a scoop of ice cream next to cake.”
Fabro “staged,” or interned, at several restaurants and eventually joined the pastry program at Hatfield’s, where she stayed until 2013. Then chef Josef Centeno called. She had met him prior to the Hatfield’s job (while staging at Little Tokyo’s Lazy Ox Canteen, where Centeno was the chef), and he wanted to discuss his upcoming restaurant.
Centeno gave her a tour of the raw Orsa & Winston space in the Old Bank District, and popped a question: Would she sign on as pastry chef?
“I was pretty scared when I decided to take up the challenge with Josef,” Fabro says. “He’s never had a pastry chef before.”
The collaboration has proven a success. Centeno and Fabro work together to brainstorm dessert concepts, often tossing ideas back and forth until they’re satisfied with the result. Fabro likes to do “classic” desserts that have both familiar flavors and surprising touches and execution, she said.
Defining Dessert: Fabro points to her cannolis. The shells are made by cutting out thin disks of tuile dough, wrapping them around metal cylinders and baking them into crunchy little tubes. She fills them with a silky whipped Mascarpone cheese mousse, garnishes them with a pinch of chopped pistachio, and plates them with mildly bitter Amarena cherries, candied kumquats and scoops of pistachio ice cream.
Orsa & Winston is at 122 W. Fourth St., (213) 687-0300 or orsaandwinston.com.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014