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Karen DeMasco

Pastry Chef & Author

As a young transplant to New York City with a job in publishing, Karen DeMasco and a friend came up with the idea of catering parties to make money. DeMasco enrolled in weekend classes at the New York Restaurant School and ended up falling in love with the culinary arts. It wasn't long before she turned in her red pen for a cookie sheet.

DeMasco's internship at Alison on Dominick under Chef Scott Bryan became a full-time position as a combined garde manger and pastry cook. She was surprised by how much she enjoyed pastry. Clear on her direction, DeMasco found a position at Chanterelle, where she stayed for two years as a pastry cook.

In 1995, DeMasco moved to Claudia Fleming's celebrated pastry kitchen at Gramercy Tavern, where she continued to hone her hand at seasonal New American desserts that were striking yet simplistic. In 1997, DeMasco had her first opportunity to run a pastry kitchen as executive pastry chef at Fore Street in Portland, ME—a restaurant dedicated to serving the local community the wares of its own farmers and purveyors. That experience instilled in her an appreciation for farm-fresh, high-quality ingredients. In 2001, DeMasco returned to Manhattan to serve as pastry chef on the opening team of Chef Tom Colicchio's Craft. She went on to open Craftbar in 2002 and ‘wichcraft in 2003.

DeMasco was the only pastry chef included in New York Magazine's Best Chefs roster in 2003 and was named Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2005. In May 2009 DeMasco joined Chef Andrew Carmellini to create breads, pastries and desserts for Locanda Verde, his rustic Italian restaurant in The Greenwich Hotel. A take-away café that opens onto Greenwich Avenue.

DeMasco's deeply flavored, deceptively simple and irresistible desserts, cookies, and pastries have earned her accolades from The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine and New York Magazine, where Adam Platt called her desserts "impeccable...for my money, the best in town." DeMasco's first book, The Craft of Baking, was published by Clarkson Potter in October 2009.