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The sweet life

Devonshire’s pastry chef creates desserts you can’t say no to

Created date

November 20th, 2014
picture of pastry chef at Devonshire
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The latest trend in retirement community living is for more upscale dining. at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has offered gourmet cuisine since it opened 15 years ago. 

Residents dine each evening in their choice of five distinctive restaurants. 

Devonshire is a culinary trendsetter in another way, too. It employs a full-time pastry chef. 

Colette Stallone, originally from New Jersey, studied at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach and focused on pastry because it’s a creative pursuit. She’s been Devonshire’s pastry chef for 12 years. In fact, most of the kitchen staff has been at Devonshire for at least ten years. 

“There’s something to be said about that camaraderie,” says Stallone. “And we really do think of residents as if they’re our own family. Everyone looks out for one another.” 

Pastry perfection every day

Every day Stallone and an assistant create 90 servings each of three decadent, mouthwatering desserts, one of which is sugar-free. Selections typically include a pie, a cake, and something deliciously chocolate. 

Residents desiring lighter desserts can choose from a daily selection of ice creams, frozen yogurts, and fresh fruits.

“The people who live here enjoy the finest things, and that’s what we offer,” says Stallone. “The freshest fruits are delivered every day, and I use Belgian chocolate and heavy whipping cream.” 

Her flourless chocolate cake receives rave reviews, especially from people who follow a gluten-free diet. 

Other favorites include Key lime pie and tiramisu, one of Stallone’s signature desserts.  But the most loved is bread pudding. 

Once a week Stallone prepares it with vanilla sauce but adds some flair for special occasions, an apple cinnamon version for Thanksgiving or a cranberry version in December. 

Her repertoire of cheesecakes, a reliably rich and delicious dessert, will include eggnog cheesecake this month. 

Stallone thinks in terms of classic desserts and comfort foods. Knowing what residents like, she prepares the tastes they expect but also injects pizzazz through added sauces or garnishes of pastry cutouts. 

And every campus function, club meeting, or card game includes the original comfort food treat, homemade cookies. “People love their cookies,” says Stallone. 

In that same comfort-food vein, she bakes baskets of muffins. Golden brown, fragrant, and often plump with fruit, they’re a staple at Devonshire’s weekday complimentary continental breakfast buffets and pair perfectly with cups of steaming hot coffee. 

As autumn and winter arrive, regardless of the temperature, Stallone’s light and summery pastries bow to richer selections like apple- and pumpkin-based specialties. Sunday brunch might feature caramel flans, coffeecakes, or mini petit fours. 

December brings eggnog cheesecakes, chocolate-peppermint and candy-cane cakes, decadent chocolate tarts, and sugar cookies. 

Stallone’s gingerbread village of a dozen decorated houses will grace Devonshire’s atrium all December long, and the extravagant Christmas Day buffet will include 20 to 30 luscious desserts.

 

At home with Colette

What does Devonshire Pastry Chef Colette Stallone cook at home? Tomato sauce for spaghetti Sundays, soups, and roasted chicken. “Anything that fills the house with the wonderful aroma of comfort food,” she says. 

Her favorite meal is meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and string beans sautéed with bacon. Her hands-down favorite dessert is tiramisu. 

Away from her day-to-day routine she’s a sports fan. Stallone loves baseball and cheers for the Baltimore Ravens football team. 

She also competes. An avid angler, she participates in offshore tournaments for big game fish, most recently the 2014 “Blue Water Babes Fish for a Cure” tournament in Palm Beach County.

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