Sam Mason
50 Clinton St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900


Amy Tarr: What got you interested in pastry?
Sam Mason: I kind of fell into it. I went to a vocational school, and the only class I did well in was commercial foods. Towards the end I received a scholarship to Johnson and Wales, so I said, alright this is what I’m going to do.

AT: What is your philosophy on pastry?
SM: Everything’s open game as far as foodstuff. Culinary or pastry; there are no boundaries. There’s a liaison between savory and dessert: I’m looking to fill that bridge. When you’re trained in pastry you’re a little more meticulous, precise. Precision is key. Savory is a little less styled, less calculated. Thank God Wylie is very formulaic and calculated.

AT: You did a stage with Pierre Hermé, and you have also worked with Jean-Louis Palladin. Do you consider both to be your mentors?
SM: Jean Louis Palladin was definitely my biggest life mentor in terms of how I live my life today. He was extremely selfless and lived every day as full as he could. I wish I could live more for today – but in NYC, you kinda have to plan ahead.

AT: What pastry or kitchen tools can’t you live without? Why? Brand specific?
SM: Immersion circulator – it’s science equipment made for laboratories. It keeps temperature accurate within a tenth of a degree, moving water around to keep a constant temperature. I use it all the time for poaching sous vide; anything really slow or delicately cooked. I have to have a radio. Can’t work without an ice cream machine: Taylor and pacojet. Couldn’t live without my Vitaprep: nothing else works.

AT: What are your favorite desserts?
SM: Ones that aren’t sweet. I change my menu as frequently as possible. I need change. My favorite dishes are ones that are new. As long as it’s balanced and not cloying. Salt and vinegar chips are my favorite.

AT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
SM: I plan on opening my own place—a late night dessert lounge. Music, candles, pillows: it will be intimate, but also social. Right now we’re in the early stages. My investors are bar people. There’ll be savory food, but a small amount: savory cotton candy with foie gras; foie gras lollipops covered in meringue and blow torched; deconstructed French onion soup. I hope it’ll open within six months to a year. Something the city hasn’t seen.

AT: What trends do you see emerging in pastry?
SM: We stay excited about things going on in Spain. It’s their approach. We try to mentally keep abreast. Spain is still the sexiest trend on the culinary and pastry forefront.

Sam Mason
WD-50 | New York City

He may come across as part rock-star, part-comedian, but Sam Mason applies serious technique and innovation to pastry arts at wd~50. Having worked with the late Jean-Louis Palladin both at Napa in Las Vegas and Palladin in New York, Mason cites the legendary chef as his most influential mentor. He has been at wd~50 since it opened in April of 2003. Everything in the walk-in is fair game for Mason, whose experimental dessert menu is the ideal complement to Wylie Dufresne’s cuisine. He edges diners out of their comfort zone by pairing unusual ingredients with very familiar and nostalgic elements. Mason frowns upon cloyingly sweet desserts and counts salt vinegar chips among his personal favorites.


Caramelized Apple with Miso Ice Cream
Chef Sam Mason of wd~50- New York, NY
Adapted by

Yield: 10 Servings


    Apple puree:
  • 20 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 750 ml white wine
  • 810 grams apple puree
  • 203 grams water, cold
  • 203 grams white wine, cold
  • 2.6 grams high acyl gellan
  • 1.9 grams low acyl gellan
  • 1 grams maltodextrin
    Miso ice cream:
  • 2 liters milk
  • 750 mililiters cream
  • 300 grams glucose
  • 330 grams sugar
  • 64 grams trimoline
  • 180 grams milk powder
  • 10 grams stabilizer
  • 300 grams whole egg
  • 350 grams white miso
    Preserved plum puree:
  • 1 cup salted dried plums
  • 2 cups water
    Tart dough:
  • 560 grams butter
  • 104 grams confectioners sugar
  • 600 grams flour
  • 100 grams almond flour
  • 15 grams baking powder
  • 25 grams cinnamon
  • 3 grams salt
  • 120 grams hard boiled egg yolks, chopped fine
  • 25 grams rum

For apple puree:
In large sauté pan, cook apples with sugar, vanilla bean, and white wine over medium heat until liquid becomes syrupy. Discard vanilla bean, then puree apples until smooth. Heat apple puree in a pot until warm.

Blend water and wine with high and low gellan and maltodextrin for 2 minutes with hand held electric blender. Heat in sauce pot until it’s thick then becomes loose again. Working quickly, add wine mixture to apple puree and mix well using hand held blender then pour into a plastic container lined with plastic wrap, pressing wrap down over top. Chill for one hour and cut into desired shapes. Warm in an oven or microwave, sprinkle top with sugar then caramelize using torch.

For miso ice cream:
Heat milk, cream, glucose, sugar and trimoline in sauce pot over low heat until warm. Add milk powder. Heat over medium-low until simmering gently. Whisk in stabilizer and cook for 1 minute.

Temper eggs by adding one or two ladels of the hot milk mixture into eggs and stirring. Then pour tempered egg mixture back into milk. Blend in miso with hand-held mixer. Strain through chinois, cool.

For plum puree:
Cook plums in sauce pot over moderate heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Puree with enough water to make a smooth paste.

For tart dough:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add dry ingredients, egg yolks and rum. Chill dough overnight. Roll dough thin and bake until golden brown. Cool, then chop in food processor.

Sprinkle plate with chopped tart dough. Place three cubes of the caramelized apple on plate.

Smear side of plate with plum puree and place quenelle of miso ice cream in front of apple. Garnish with crushed, candied violets.

   Published: April 2005