Chef Spotlight: Executive Pastry Chef Johana Langi of THE LAMBS CLUB
Johana Langi, Executive Pastry Chef of The Lambs Club, has worked in pastry kitchens all over New York for the last six years. A graduate of Baruch College with a degree in English Literature, Art History and Sociology, Johana discovered a love of pastry while exploring the city's bakeries and restaurants on her days off.
Johana made the decision to turn her love of pastry into a career by studying under the talented people she aspired to emulate, beginning with Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller. Under the Pastry and Sous Chefs, she quickly learned the fundamental skills required of a Pastry Chef, and was ready to take on additional responsibility.
Over the next two years, she would work her way up through Ciano and the famed Eleven Madison Park. In 2012, Johana joined The Lambs Club as an integral party of the Pastry Team, working on special projects like special order cakes, private dining and pop-up events.
From 2013 to 2016, Johana worked as a Pastry Chef for Heidi, Saul Restaurant at the Brooklyn Museum, Barclays Bank Executive Dining Room and Junoon Restaurant. She took a lead in developing and standardizing recipes, creating desserts, menu writing, and managing a staff of pastry cooks. She returned to The Lambs Club in September 2016 as Executive Pastry Chef, managing every aspect of the pastry department and expanding and creating new programs.
In her free time, she enjoys reading books, practicing food photography for her blog, and shopping at vintage stores.
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Johana Langi for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
When I was in elementary school, I loved reading recipes. My family had a bunch of magazine subscriptions to lifestyle magazines and my favorite part was reading the recipes. I would devour them like comic strips. Because of that, I became interested in experimenting in the kitchen and trying out some of these recipes.
Who were some of your career mentors?
One of my career mentors is Chef Bjoern Boettcher, who previously held the executive pastry chef position here at The Lambs Club. Not only did he teach me all the intricacies of pastry, he really was a great example of a chef, leader and person.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
As a pastry chef, I tend to really love making desserts based on sweet things I ate as a child. I grew up eating Indonesian, Spanish, Greek, and American food in my family, which gives me a vast spectrum of flavors to draw from. I love drawing ideas from memories, whether it was our weekly Entenmann's cake, my mom's 'es kacang', my grandmother's rice pudding, or the fruit I was gifted from my neighbor's garden.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
I like my food to be fun and playful. I love taking things that are comforting and familiar and presenting it a different way while still being very delicious.
What is your favorite meal?
One of my favorite meals was at Martin Berasetegui in San Sebastian, Spain. I had such an incredible meal and probably one of the best food experiences to note. It was incredible to eat and overlook part of the farm where the ingredients were sourced. I love meals and experiences that allow me to think of ingredients differently.
Tell me a little bit about The Lambs Club and what makes it unique.
Geoffrey Zakarian's The Lambs Club is a restaurant and bar inside The Chatwal Hotel in Midtown, right in the heart of the Theater District. What makes it unique is the high quality food and cocktails mixed with the art-deco design - no detail is too small! The building itself has such an incredible history - it was designed by Stanford White and was home to the first professional theatrical club. It's a unique experience to enjoy a delicious meal in such a historic place.
What are your favorite desserts on the menu?
All of them! But I really have to mention our newest two desserts. The chocolate mousse is chocolaty and luscious, and has chocolate "rocks" that taste like a mixture of crunch bars and cocoa puffs. Our first foray into warm weather desserts is our pistachio parfait paired with green tea and lime crumble finished with strawberry rhubarb sorbet. It's refreshing and light, perfect for the upcoming season.
The Lambs Club offers Chef Geoffrey Zakarian's modern approach to American cuisine with distinct ingredients, highly seasonal menus and a signature approach to hospitality. Zakarian and his talented culinary team marry their passion for food with their classical training to deliver exceptional dining experiences. The team of skilled chefs put forth daily breakfast, lunch and dinner offering guests dishes composed with the most seasonal and highest quality ingredients. Inside The Lambs Club, guests are transported from the hustle and bustle of Broadway to the welcoming oases of the restaurant's many one-of-a-kind spaces.
The Lambs Club is located at 132 West 44th Street (between 6th Avenue and Broadway), New York, NY 10036. For more information, call 212.997.5262 and visit http://www.thelambsclub.com/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Johana Langi