Get the Sweet Scoop Behind the Drool-Worthy Desserts Made by This Costa Mesa Pastry Chef

Mesa’s William Minard Loves a Good Quesadilla and Is Always Finding Creative Ways to Amp Up the Menu

Written By: Jordan Smith Mesa Pastry Chef
Photographed By: Ed Visions Mesa Pastry Chef

It’s one thing to taste the food, and it’s a whole other thing to know the inspiration behind the food. We sat down with Mesa’s pastry chef, William Minard, to ask the questions every foodie wants to know the answer to—like how fish sauce can be used to make a sweet caramel.

Q: What made you decide to become a pastry chef?

William Minard: Originally I was a savory chef, but I always had an interest in pastry. So I made sure to work pastry at every restaurant I worked at. Eventually, I fell in love with the creative freedom you get from doing pastry.

Q: Can you explain the work that goes into your craft?

WM: Oh man. Before I even get to the “trying out” phase of the dish, I usually go through around  10 different versions of it. I’ll choose about three versions of one dish, then go into the testing and tasting phase—it usually takes me about a month to get one dish down.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make/specialty dish?

WM: Well, favorite dish to make for myself? Definitely a quesadilla—I’m basic as all hell. For the masses, you know, honestly, I don’t have a favorite. I just enjoy making different, good food. I want to make things that when people look at them or taste them think ‘Wow what the hell is that?!’ then have a foodgasm.

Q: What is your inspiration when cooking?

WM: Everything. When I think of an idea or a dish it’s not just thinking of sweet, crunch, soft or sour. It’s more like, ‘how can I take this and make into something else,’ or how can I take a dish that’s completely savory and turn it into dessert. I get inspiration from all around me—anything can trigger my creativity.

Q: What are your favorite dishes on the menu?

WM: As far as desserts go, my favorite right now is the banana custard with dehydrated black pepper. I don’t know why, it’s just different. Every new menu I do, I try to push the boundaries a little more as far as plating and flavor profiles.

Q: What is an unexpected ingredient that you like to add to your dishes?

WM: Anything savory. You always see people doing sweet components to savory dishes, but aside from bacon you hardly see people adding savory to sweet. I once had a dish where I used fish sauce to make a caramel, and it was fantastic (and fish sauce is definitely potent). If I can transform something like that, then I’ve succeeded in doing what I love.

Q: What is different about your style of cooking?

WM: I don’t want to say it’s different, I mean at this point in the game we’re all just carbon copies of someone. Though I see some of the stuff these new young chefs are putting out, and it looks beautiful, but does it need 17 different flowers and all this makeup to turn a common dish into something Instagrammable?

Q: What makes Mesa unique?

WM: Mesa is interesting because you get all sorts of people, from all walks of life, who come in to enjoy food, drink or just dance. It’s rare to find a place that can successfully incorporate great cocktails and food with the nightlife antics of a nightclub.

Q: What about Mesa attracted you to your job?

WM: Have you ever met Julia, Tawny or Chris? They’re great and definitely a huge reason I stay, but originally my friend chef, Niki Starr, invited me to be the pastry chef and of course I couldn’t say no. Something new always pops up and keeps me here. My kitchen staff is the best, we’re like a family, and the bar staff is amazing as well. We all work very well together, and that’s what you want, a family to work with. That’s definitely Mesa for me.

Q: Favorite dish to eat that you make?

WM: Honestly I always think it could be better. If I had to choose, I’d say any of the ice creams I make.

Q: Favorite dish to eat that someone else makes?

WM: My kitchen staff’s food. They all put in and make some great food. Bernie with the quesadillas, Abel with his rice and meats and salsas, Titi with his fish and sauces and Jocelyn with her pizza skills. It’s always something new that I love to taste and eat, and it’s always good.

Q: If you were not a chef, what would you be doing?

WM: Chemist, for sure.

725 Baker St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.557.6700 Mesa Pastry Chef

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