Ana De Sa Martins on Finding Her Purpose Within the Unexpected
At times, the best things that can happen to someone come at a time when they open their heart and surrender themselves to the journey that is to play out in front of them.
Whether it's taking a leap of faith and pursuing one's dreams or saying "yes" to a new experience, one small step forward can alter the course of people's lives.
For Ana De Sa Martins, the opportunity to do an internship in Alsace, France, proved to be a sweeter deal than she had previously anticipated. The executive pastry chef of Miami's Beauty & The Butcher tells People Chica that her journey into the world of baking and pastries was made possible thanks to this trip.
"They put me on pastry—because nobody else wanted to work that station—and it was one of the best things that have happened to me. I rocked the pastry station and ran it with so much pride! Most importantly, I found my place in this industry," she details.
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the Venezuelan Chica Boss shares how she fuses her heritage and culture into the delicious treats she makes as well as the advice she'd offer aspiring pastry chefs about going into the business.
Pastries have the power to evoke a special memory within everyone. From birthday cake to an after-dinner treat, people have a special place for desserts and baked goods. When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career as a pastry chef?
It happened almost by accident and a few years into my career/education. I had completed a one-year program in Culinary Arts and I was now in my third year of school to get a Bachelor's in Hospitality Management, when I got the opportunity to go to Alsace, France, to do an internship.
They put me on pastry—because nobody else wanted to work that station—and it was one of the best things that have happened to me. I rocked the pastry station and ran it with so much pride! Most importantly, I found my place in this industry.
I loved that I could make an impact on people's dining experience—beginning with the bread service and at the end with delicious desserts.
You're currently at Beauty and the Butcher in Miami, FL, bringing your innovative techniques to their dessert program. What is your creative process like when it comes time to work alongside a chef to establish what the dessert program will be?
For me, it all starts with the style of [the] restaurant you are designing the menu for (fine dining, steakhouse, casual dining, etc). Then, I consider the neighborhood and the guests I'll be serving. Finally—the best part—I work to create the menu based on local ingredients and seasonality.
I like to have something on the menu for everybody and to hit these three categories: light and fruit-forward, rich and chocolatey, [and] warm and with caramel notes. At Beauty and the Butcher, which is in South Miami and where almost 100% of our guests are locals, I went for a menu that is classic and nostalgic but with unexpected flavor combinations.
You have Venezuelan heritage. How do you work to keep your culture's influence alive in your work?
I am so proud of being Venezuelan and I make sure to tell everybody about it wherever I go. You can also see it on my menu, where almost every dessert has a tropical fruit component.
Luckily for me, I grew up eating many of the tropical fruits grown in Miami, so I [use] that to my advantage. Right now, I'm working on a Mamey sticky toffee cake, which has me really excited. This dessert is going to be an homage to Miami and Venezuela.
What is some advice you'd give a Latina who is considering pursuing the life of a pastry chef?
It is known that the restaurant industry is very demanding. But this industry is also extremely gratifying when you get to work on your craft every day and share the kitchen with people that are equally passionate!
If you are a Latina in the early stage of your career, my few pieces of advice are: work harder than everybody else (it will get you to your end goal faster), don't limit yourself to desserts, and venture into other areas like restaurant management or even savory cooking (it will make you more valuable for the business) and use your background and culture to your advantage!