As in, executive pastry chef. Andrea Upchurch, of East Bay Street's Blossom and Magnolia, was recently tapped to run the pastry program at Cypress, the downtown restaurant where chef Craig Deihl makes charcuterie dreams come true. Now, she'll manage the sweet side of things at the three aforementioned restaurants, which are all owned by Hospitality Management Group Inc. Upchurch is only 30, but she's already put in eight years with HMGI and studied pastry at Culinary Art Institute of Charleston before that.
HMGI just made the official announcement, but she actually took over right before Charleston Wine + Food, meaning in addition to putting her stamp on the Cypress dessert menu, she was making 800 assorted pastries for the opening-night festivities.
When Eater talked with Upchurch, she was in the middle of baking pecan pies, a bourbon-infused staple of the menu at Magnolias and the dessert that "started it all" for her as a kid. At her family's holidays and parties, "it was always, 'Andrea's gotta make her pecan pie.'"
Of course, her repertoire has expanded, and she now is crafting three distinctive dessert menus to reflect each restaurant. At Magnolias, she tries to keep it "homey and delicious," so expect to see her take on bananas and cream, a vanilla pound cake, banana puree and banana pudding ice cream, all topped with a white chocolate sauce. At Blossom, it's more likely to be something along the lines of chocolate hazelnut torte, with some extras, like espresso mousse, salted caramel and fudge sauce.
But it's at Cypress where "you can push the envelope a little," she said. "My goal was to play off Craig's stuff. I want to do desserts that are light and clean." To that end, she's created a creamy Meyer lemon pudding cake, which is finished with roasted strawberries, mint and a citrus confit.
Even though the restaurants are in close proximity, she's splitting her time between three kitchens each and every day. Upchurch has a team of six to help her execute her vision and she's looking to hiring another.
"I'm excited to be here and happy to be doing what I'm doing," she said. "It's intense for sure."
· All Cypress Coverage [ECHS]