Catherine Schimenti, Pastry Chef/Owner Baked by the Ocean, Long Beach, New York

Catherine Schimenti is the consulting pastry chef for Gelso & Grand in New York City and the owner of Baked by the Ocean, a highly-anticipated new pastry shop opening this spring in trendy Long Beach, New York.

Cat was named Starchef’s Rising Star Pastry Chef in 2010 and nominated as a James Beard Semifinalist for Best Pasty Chef in 2008 and 2009. Despite her decorated career she’s not above fun. The foot-long Holy Cannoli she developed for Gelso & Grand has generated a social media craze as people flock to the Little Italy restaurant to smash open the giant candy-filled pastries with wooden mallets. Cat has kept the fun going with playful versions featuring Svedka vodka, matcha cream and a funfetti cake-filled unicorn rainbow version.

At Baked by the Ocean, Cat is taking a modern approach to the nostalgic desserts she grew up eating. Think fresh-baked cakes, warm donuts, seasonal tarts and lemon bars with a twist of passion fruit.

“The Perfect Purée Passion Fruit Concentrate adds the perfect amount of zing to the classic comforting lemon bar and people can relate to the dessert with a new flavor profile,” Cat says. “As a chef, I really love working with The Perfect Purée flavors because of how pure and flavorful they are. They’re always consistent and that really is comforting and the most important thing in cooking and baking.”

In January, Cat partnered with The Perfect Purée for the dessert bar at Cochon555 in New York where she served peanut butter bars and giant cannolis.

Opening her own bakery on Long Island brings Cat full circle to her childhood there, where she started cooking and baking with her parents when she was just 3. During a cooking class in high school, Cat’s teacher suggested that she become a chef and in 1998 she enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 2000, Cat interned at Balthazar in New York City, and after graduation stayed on to master traditional French pastries, breads and the restaurant’s classic desserts. In 2001, she moved on to Gramercy Tavern, a three-star New York Times restaurant, where she assisted nationally-acclaimed pastry chef Claudia Fleming and chef Tom Colicchio.

In 2003, Cat worked on the opening team of Thomas Keller’s New York Times four-star restaurant, Per Se, where she expanded her understanding of classical and modern dessert styles alongside pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel. In 2006, Cat joined Colicchio as the opening pastry chef at Craftsteak New York and a year later moved to L.A. for the same position at Craft Los Angeles, which opened in July 2007 in Century City.

In August 2008, Angeleno magazine named Cat Pastry Chef of the Year and Los Angeles Magazine featured her seasonal parfait in its 2008 Restaurant Awards issue. Her famous sticky buns graced the cover of Food and Wine. Cat also spent time in San Francisco, where she worked on the team at the Michelin-starred Michael Mina Restaurant.