Before the Carrarinis opened their bakery, they owned a knitwear business that required international travel. During business trips to Italy, France, and Japan they were inspired by the local food markets, specialty restaurants, and the best bakeries. When they returned to London they saw an opportunity to fill the city’s need for flourishing farmer’s markets and restaurants that focus on simple, clean, and organic foods.
The couple closed their knitwear business and opened their first restaurant, Villandry, in London in 1988 with their vision to “bring a whole market into one tiny space” with fresh, locally sourced foods. Fourteen years later, they opened their esteemed Rose Bakery in Paris where this philosophy of clean eating remains true.
Rose Bakery’s New York location operates in the same manner and has thrived under head chef and manager, Matthew Lodes. Originally from Oklahoma City, OK, Lodes grew up surrounded by family in the food industry. With paternal grandparents who were grocers and his maternal grandfather a trained chef, it was only natural for him to follow their footsteps into the world of food. Lodes was mentored and trained by Eberhard Müller, executive chef of renowned Lutèce in NYC, before being appointed head chef of Rose Bakery. In this position, Lodes explores his culinary interests with freedom while still working closely with the Carrarinis to ensure that their philosophy of clean eating is incorporated daily into Rose Bakery’s New York menu.
Rose Bakery’s name has become synonymous with the locally sourced food movement, quality ingredients, and the ability for customers to trace their food back to their source, culminating into an enjoyable culinary experience.
Mood of Living Q&A
Mood of Living: Can you describe your current occupation?
Matthew Lodes: As the Head Chef of Rose Bakery, I create the menus each day, since our menu does change every day. Additionally, I am here to support my team and to constantly make sure that they have all of the necessary tools to do their job. I once had a chef I worked for say before he left for the day, “You’re set for success.” Meaning he had done everything in his power for me to be successful.
MoL: How did your childhood influence you to become a chef, specifically a pastry chef?
ML: Even though I picked this career in my mid-twenties, it seemed destined that I become a chef from early on. My paternal grandparents owned a grocery store, my maternal grandfather was a trained chef and my father is a decorated jeweler.
MoL: What is your first pastry memory?
ML: Eating palmiers at the French Pastry Shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Despite that I actually do not have much of a sweet tooth, this memory has stuck with me from early on.
MoL: How do you approach creating of a new recipe?
ML: It’s different every time. Sometimes I am making a classic dish or reinterpreting a classic dish. I often get inspired from the fruit markets or when I’m traveling. Baking is very precise so I love the creativity of this process however it develops.
MoL: What are the most important desserts trends you see happening today, and where do you see it going in the future?
ML: I don’t pay too much attention to trends. Pastry is rooted in tradition so I really value great technique and beautiful ingredients. At Rose Bakery we are not aiming to come up with the next biggest trend, but rather make beautiful, delicious food.
MoL: What is your approach to GMOs and the source of your ingredients? Where do your ingredients come from?
ML: I’m anti-GMO but at the same time I do not think much about it. I have been working with farmers and distributors whom I trust for a long time, so I am lucky that I don’t have to put a lot of effort into avoiding GMOs.
MoL: What kind of foods do you like to eat?
ML: My goal is to become a really good Spanish cook. I love the cuisine from tortilla espanola, to paella, to the perfect croquetas.
MoL: Assiette de Legumes is one of your most popular dishes. How do you make a simple plate of vegetables special?
ML: It all starts with the ingredients. Once you start with the most amazing vegetables, 90% of the work is done for you. I go to the Union Square farmers market three times a week where I touch and smell all of the produce I pick out. I love this dish because it is not trying to be vegetarian or even vegan, it usually just is. Guests order it because it tastes good and is vegetarian second, not vice versa.
MoL: What is the most unique dessert or pastry you’ve ever encountered?
ML: The Salzburger Nöckerl. This dessert is basically a vanilla soufflé but in Salzburg, Austria. It is so large that it is presented on its own table!
MoL: What sets Rose Bakery apart from the abundance of bakeries in Manhattan?
ML: Rose Bakery New York is really much more than a bakery, it also a full café where savory and sweet items can be enjoyed.
MoL: Dover Street Market is a cult name in the fashion world. How does this affect what you do here?
ML: The beauty of it is that it doesn’t. We love the array of guests that join us at Rose Bakery. We have a wide range of customers from neighbors, to people who are here to shop, to people who have been to Rose Bakery locations in London, Paris and Tokyo. We continue to change the menu daily and use the very best ingredients. We are more affected by the seasons and what produce is available than anything else.
MoL: What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
ML: I had a chef, Eberhard Müller, say to me after I made a mistake, “Don’t be sorry, be careful.” It’s like your dad telling you he’s not mad at you, just disappointed. It was a way of making me think about what I’m doing instead of just doing it.
MoL: Where do you go to for peace of mind, and how do you achieve it?
ML: To a country where I don’t speak the language.
MoL: We find that creative people are more likely to lead an artistic lifestyle. Do you entertain?
ML: I would love to entertain but my profession doesn’t give me the freedom to entertain as much as I would like to.
MoL: Do you cook?
ML: Almost every night.
MoL: Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?
ML: Se Nougat!
MoL: How did you come to incorporate nougat into Rose Bakery New York?
ML: I like to use it as a small treat to go with a cup of coffee or tea. It’s unusual to get something like this. It’s usually a piece of chocolate or a small piece of cake. Jean-Charles came and he ended up eating a pound of it. I knew we were on to something.
MoL: What advice can you give to someone interested in becoming a chef?
ML: Save some money and work for free in the best restaurants for a year. It will be more valuable than spending it on culinary school.
MoL: Do you have any words of wisdom?
ML: Have thick skin. Not everyone will like what you do. If you can’t handle criticism, you shouldn’t be a chef.
Photos courtesy of Thomas Graff and Rose Bakery.