Denise Perez

Denise Perez, Pastry Chef

Denise PerezProfessional baker Denise Perez is passionately in love with the endless possibilities of sweets.

Inspired by watching her mother and grandfather work in the kitchen when she was a child, Denise embarked on a career as a baker and in eight short years rose to become the Executive Pastry chef at the Gold Country Casino & Hotel.

From bold seasonal desserts and fresh-baked bread to elegant dry ice presentations, bouquets of mini cupcakes and fancy wedding cakes, Denise considers every aspect of baking an art form.

“Who else can say they’ve created something beautiful to look at and eat!” she exclaims.

After earning her degree in culinary arts from Sierra College, Denise learned the intricacies of wedding cake design at a bakery, then became the sweet baker at a bread shop where her idea of heaven was “peacefully creating warm, delicious goodies in the wee hours of the morning.”

At about the same time, she started her own business, Sweets by Denise, which eventually led to her dream job at the lakeside resort casino in the hills of northern California.

Now, Denise and her staff are responsible for supplying baked goods and desserts to five venues throughout the casino. And while she’s encouraged to be as creative as possible, she doesn’t have the time to make her own purees.

After trying samples of The Perfect Purée, Denise placed an order and continued to experiment. She started by flavoring plain ice cream with the White Peach and Blackberry purees, but quickly saw the possibility of more complex applications.

One of her original creations is Sweet Zinger Chill, a dessert of competing but complementary tastes that tops The Perfect Purée Carmelized Pineapple ice cream with The Perfect Purée Roasted Red Pepper and raspberry chipotle hot sauce. A sprinkling of candied pecans deepens the texture and flavor.

“It’s kind of like a spicy-savory flavor and it pairs really nicely,” Denise says. “You get that cold sweet taste and the crunch of the pecans.”

Denise says she’s lucky to have an inspired food director who takes her and her staff on tours of bakeries in San Francisco and Sacramento. The opportunity to come away from those trips with fresh ideas and play with new flavor combinations is endlessly exciting.

“I love what I do, having the opportunity to play and learn every day is a dream in itself,” she says.

Perez’s trajectory is all the more impressive because it’s coincided directly with the birth of her daughter eight years ago and, five years later, twin boys.

“When I look back at my journey, I have such an appreciation for the blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, aches and stress I’ve endured to live out my passion,” she says.

Recipe by Chef Denise Perez

Sweet Zinger Chill (Carmelized Pineapple Ice Cream with Raspberry Roasted Pepper Sauce)