Chef's Table with bakers Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks
Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks are sister bakers.
- The pair make up the family-owned Second Daughter Baking Co. and recently got a nod as James Beard Award semifinalists for Outstanding Baker.
State of play: The sisters run the bakery out of the BOK Building with no public storefront, operating exclusively on a pre-order basis.
We asked Saltzman and Brooks questions for our culinary advice series, called Chef's Table.
⚖️ Must-have tool in your home kitchen?: A digital gram scale is one of the best tools any home baker can possess.
- Working with exact weight measurements is key when baking because of the inconsistencies with volume measurements.
🥩 Favorite home-cooked meal?: Braised brisket. There is something nostalgic about brisket that warms our hearts.
🍽 Last restaurant you went to and your order?: Penang Malaysian Cuisine in Chinatown.
- We love their roti chani and nasi lemak. The food there is flavorful, authentic, and the staff there are extremely kind.
🛒 Go-to grocery store?: Reading Terminal Market.
- It is within walking distance of our apartment and filled with history and culture. We love to be able to support other family-run local shops.
🌿 Most underutilized or overlooked ingredient?: Nigella seeds.
- We use it a lot at home either to mix in with vegetables, fish and even top pastries with. While they are small they pack a robust flavor.
☝🏾 Quick tip for at-home bakers?: We understand baking at home can be perceived as intimidating, but just push through the recipe and method.
- There are tons of instructional videos out there to help along the way. You can do it!
🔌 How do you unplug?: Turning off our phones/devices and just engaging in conversation or taking alone time.
- Meditating, walking throughout the city or hot baths do the trick. #selfcare.
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