Ingrid Schatz came to Ellwood Thompson’s from the W Hotel in Washington Photo by Isaac Harrell
Sitting at a small table on the edge of Ellwood Thompson's Local Market patio on a crisp fall afternoon, Ingrid Schatz, the new bakery manager, describes her passion for making French macarons.
Schatz grew up traveling the world, from Russia to the Dominican Republic. She began her career as a pastry chef after spending three years working in finance and marketing in London, where she baked for friends on the side. It wasn't until she told her mother about her dreams of becoming a pastry chef that her mother revealed that Schatz comes from a long line of Swedish bakers, including her great-grandfather and his brother.
"OK, well since it's in the blood, it must be the right thing to do," Schatz told her mother. Every Easter, she recalls delighting in a variety of Swedish baked goods, including her favorite, an almond cream bun called semla.
Now a veteran pastry chef at age 31, Schatz, who studied at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school in Paris, is ready to make her mark on Ellwood
Thompson's and its sister store, Dawson's Market, which recently opened its doors in Rockville, Md. Schatz says that she intends to keep the health focus and vegan-friendliness that Ellwood Thompson's is known for, but to arrange it in a different format.
"We can kind of play with things to keep them in line with what we want in terms of health benefits but also kind of make them a more high-class product or a high-ticket item," Schatz says. She already has started brainstorming some of the additions she would like to make to the bakery at Ellwood Thompson's. She says that customers can expect something new for the holiday season, but she doesn't want to give her secrets away just yet.
Schatz says that her role as bakery manager, which began Aug. 10, is completely different from her previous job working as a pastry chef at the W Hotel in Washington. She sees the transition from making macarons and mousse to cookies and brownies as an opportunity to learn a new skill set. One of her long-term goals for Ellwood Thompson's is to offer pastry-making classes in the community room.
In France, Schatz worked at Ladurée, a pastry business that's famous for essentially inventing the French macaron. That is where she says she found a special place in her heart for the art of crafting these petite, colorful cookies with ganache or butter crème filling. Each year, Schatz makes a special pumpkin-pie-flavored macaron for Thanksgiving, and she hopes to expand her assortment by making a pecan pie version this year.
"I would compare them a bit to a cupcake just because they are endless in their possibilities," Schatz says. "You can have any color you want, any flavor you want, any filling you want, and it's just kind of a blank canvas almost."