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Four Seasons Pastry Sous Chef Mary Boehne Named Corporate Chef at Strange Donuts

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Mary Boehe. | Noah Besheer

Strange Donuts (2709 Sutton Boulevard; 314-932-5851) has proven itself to be more than the little Kickstarter-that-could several times in the past year, but hiring a corporate chef solidifies its big-time status. The Maplewood doughnut shop is bringing on Four Seasons pastry sous chef Mary Boehne to help with the upcoming expansion. Boehne also penned the "Real Life of a Pastry Chef" column for Gut Check awhile back.

See also: The Real Life of a St. Louis Pastry Chef

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Six Pastry Chef Secrets to Perfect Holiday Cookies

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Chef Mary Boehne hard at work on Cielo's cookies. | Kelsey Power

In her semi-regular column Real Life of a Pastry Chef, pastry sous chef Mary Boehne of Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800) at the Four Seasons Hotel dishes on secrets of the trade and about the industry as a whole. This week's topic: holiday cookies.

As I have mentioned previously I generally do not bake at home, but I have to make an exception during the holidays. I love getting together with my sister, mom and niece to bake cookies every year. It's not Christmas time without it. I try to keep it a relaxing -- not obsess about perfectly weighed flour or proper creaming technique -- and concentrate on little things, like letting my 3-year-old niece add the chocolate chips to the batter or catching her sneaking a taste while her mom's not looking.

But if you are as OCD a baker at home as I am at work, I'll share a few of my own secrets to perfect cookies and my personal favorite recipe: the gooey butter cake cookie.

See also: How Does a Pastry Chef Get Her Dessert Ideas?

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How Does a Pastry Chef Get Her Dessert Ideas?

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A honey-lavender meringue...but that's not the half of it. | Noah Besheer

In her semi-regular column Real Life of a Pastry Chef, pastry sous chef Mary Boehne of Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800) at the Four Seasons Hotel dishes on secrets of the trade and about the industry as a whole. This week's topic: dessert conceptualization.

"Honey-lavender meringue layered with chocolate Tuaca mousse and blood-orange ginger sorbet garnished with fresh honeycomb and candied violets."

This is a dessert that is currently offered on my menu at Cielo. One of my guests once asked me, "How in the world do you come up with this?"

It made me stop and think: "How did this item come to be?" In an effort to clarify the process some pastry chefs go through, I thought I'd share how I conceptualize desserts and how home chefs can, too.

See also: The Real Life of a St. Louis Pastry Chef

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For Chefs, Thanksgiving Is Hardly a Holiday

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Pastry chef Mary Boehne and some past Thanksgiving offerings at Cielo. | Noah Besheer

In her semi-regular column Real Life of a Pastry Chef, pastry sous chef Mary Boehne of Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800) at the Four Seasons Hotel dishes on secrets of the trade and about the industry as a whole. This week's topic: Thanksgiving.

Every year I am asked the same question: What dessert are you bringing for Thanksgiving?

I try to explain that, first of all, I don't bake at home. By the end of my day, I am tired and can easily settle for a bowl of homemade spaghetti and a scoop of Ted Drewes for dessert. Generally speaking, if I am going to a holiday party, I will cook something savory and leave the sweet treats to the home baker. Call it a cop-out if you will, but the expectation of a pastry chef to bring dessert to the party is wearisome.

However, I do have a few thoughts on how to plan an appropriate Thanksgiving menu, especially if you're struggling with whether to go super traditional or mix it up, and a few insights to share about what it's like to be a chef at the most food-centric time of year.

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The Real Life of a St. Louis Pastry Chef

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Mary Boehne, author and pastry sous chef at the Four Seasons. | Noah Besheer

Editor's note: Mary Boehne is the pastry sous chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown St. Louis and its restaurant, Cielo (999 North Second Street; 314-881-5800). Before that she worked as a line cook at Winslow's Home and at the Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado. Today marks the beginning of her semi-regular column Real Life of a Pastry Chef. We asked her to introduce herself with a simple explanation of her job. Take it away, Mary.

It's not every day that I have the opportunity to explain what it is that I do. Most people hear "pastry chef" and they think fancy cakes, desserts and Butter Braids. While that may be true, there are many more responsibilities that go along with the prestigious title.

I hear the whispers of how we are a "dying breed." Over the years I have seen our numbers dwindle to just a few. But I refuse to see it as dying off, just a "concentration" of our talent. But more on that later.

See also: Kimberly's Bake Shop Hopes to Open in Wentzville Despite Construction Setbacks

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