The Gannet Q&A

Will Goldfarb

26th July 2018

Interview: Killian Fox

Will Goldfarb is an American pastry chef currently living in Ubud, Bali, where he runs a small dessert bar with big ambitions called Room4Dessert (you may have seen it in a Chef’s Table: Pastry episode earlier this year). Born in Long Island, Goldfarb worked at ElBulli in Spain and Papillon and Cru in New York before setting up his dessert bar, first in New York and later in Bali. His debut cookbook, Room For Dessert, is published by Phaidon.

If you could revisit one meal in your life, which would it be?

My favorite meal was at Bistro de la Marine by Jacques Maximin in Cagnes sur Mer with my daughter Loulou about six years ago. I had admired Maximin from afar for years and never had the chance to dine at any of his previous restaurants. We booked a hotel walking distance and went over to check it out. He stormed into the kitchen at some point, the very model of a major general. The food was simple and divine. In particular mention was the sole fingers poached in a kind of light fish soup to order under the salamander over a bed of mussels and vegetable julienne with a dollop of crème fraiche. We went back three times. We ordered different dishes each time but this one we simply had to have every night.

What’s your most food-splattered cookbook?

Fredric Bau’s Au Coeur des Saveurs is the one with the binding so well dissolved it may as well not exist. This is still a reference point for perfect simple and precise pastry. So lucky that I “borrowed” it in 1999 while at The Ryland Inn under Craig Shelton.

What’s your biggest food or drink aversion?

I hate banana. We constantly have to find banana alternatives – currently we are working with grilled aubergine. I am not a fan of goat cheeses nor cilantro, but banana is my true bête noire.

Describe your perfect breakfast.

Whatever my wife wants.

Of all the restaurants in the world, which makes you happiest, and why?

I like to go to Burnt Ends in Singapore. The food is perfectly prepared and the service is professional yet relaxed – the wines and spirits are delightful. Dave Pynt and his team do a great job. It is always a joy to eat or even cook there. A close second is Casa Publica in Williamsburg since it makes me very happy to see chef Robert Truitt doing so well.

What do you listen to when you’re cooking?

Silence is golden.

Tell us about a dish you make when you’re short on time.

Soft scrambled eggs and toast.

If you could only drink one thing, aside from water, what would it be?

Jamu is a traditional Balinese type of medicine from turmeric, tamarind and honey. In fact there are many kinds, but the one described above, Kunyit, is very common. My bar team, headed by Koming Sukradayasa, always prepare it for me at the restaurant.

What was your favourite food when you were 10?

Chocolate chip cookies.

Who is your food hero?

Albert Adrià has really set the pace, first as the creative engine behind the best restaurant in the world, second as a supportive mentor, and third as a prolific and ingenious restaurateur.

What’s your favourite food scene in the movies?

Probably the noodle degustation in Tampopo.

What’s your greatest talent in the kitchen?

Associative creativity. I like to make things go together. Flavours, colors, shapes, movie lines…

What’s the best thing you cooked at home in the last month?

Chickpea stew. I am working on my vegan ragouts. So in addition to a kind of aigo boulido with chickpea water and sourdough bread, I sneak some roasted mushrooms with a little pimenton. A kind of Bali x Asturias fabada. Some greens help round it out.

What ingredient or food product are you currently obsessed with?


Describe a kitchen object you can’t live without.

A spoon. I think when chefs refer to a spoon, they mean The Spoon. The Gray Kunz spoon.

Share a useful cooking tip.

Season throughout the cooking process (taste constantly).

If you had to limit yourself to the cuisine of just one country, which would it be and why?

Thailand. The variety, freshness and care are so very delightful.

Describe the thing that most annoys you as a customer in a restaurant.

Being billed incorrectly.

What food trend really gets on your nerves?

The substitution of the experience by the image.

What’s your biggest food extravagance?

Champagne. Currently, Jacquesson Dizy Terres Rouges Rose 2009.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?

Anything with champagne.

Room For Dessert by Will Goldfarb is published by Phaidon

Room4Dessert is at Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia. Follow: Twitter | Instagram

Follow Will: Twitter | Instagram

Posted 26th July 2018

In The Gannet Q&A


Interview: Killian Fox

More from The Gannet Q&A

The Gannet Q&A: Ben Reade – The co-founder of Edinburgh Food Studio on his cravings for fruit, memorable Christmas dinners at his granny's house and his most blissful meal

The Gannet Q&A: Laura Freeman – The author of The Reading Cure on her greatest hits recipe compilation, the secret ingredient for the perfect breakfast and her restaurant pet hate

The Gannet Q&A: Stephen Toman – The chef at Ox in Belfast on "mindblowing" meals in Copenhagen, his grandmother's vegetable broth and the tune that gets things going in the kitchen

The Gannet Q&A: Korsha Wilson – The food writer and podcast host on her cookbook conversion, Maryland blue crabs for dinner, and a deep-seated hatred of peanut butter