Saturday Sweets: Karina Rivera Chef Protégé
Chef Antonio Bachour’s name is well known all throughout the pastry world, but coming up through the ranks is his right-hand and pastry chef, Karina Rivera.
Karina grew up in Mexico always loving sweets and knowing she wanted to be in the kitchen. She went to culinary school and once she finished, got the opportunity to do an internship at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, where she was supposed to do rounds in all the aspects of the hotel.
But, once she stepped foot into Chef Antonio’s kitchen she knew she never wanted to leave.
She’s only been in the States for 4 years and in that short time she’s made quite a name for herself. Recently she was in charge of the pastry kitchen at Bachour Bakery + Bistro, but just departed as she plans on traveling with Chef Antonio and assisting him in his pastry classes in Thailand and Indonesia this summer. Once she’s back, there are some big things in the works just in time for the end of the year.
Don’t worry – Saturday Sweets will be on top of those developments when the time comes. In the meantime, I loved getting the chance to fangirl and have coffee with Karina before all of her amazing travel begins.
Here’s a bit of my chat with Karina:
How did you get your start in pastry?
Well, since I was a kid I always saw my mom and grandma make cakes and pies in the house. I remember the smell and all the feelings of that environment made me happy. So since then, I’ve always felt love for sweets. When I was 6 or 7 I asked Santa for an Easy Bake Oven and I got it and I think it was my best gift ever. I started trying different toppings and flavors and it made me so happy to do that. After that I would tell my mom, “Let’s go take classes!” So we would do a gingerbread making class during the holidays and things like that. We would take small one hour culinary classes all the time. It was always my favorite and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I’ve always loved sweets.
What inspires your menu the most?
I think I’m inspired by everything around me. I’m really sentimental and I think love inspires me. My family and their support is a huge inspiration for me. When it comes to flavors and colors – right now we are really lucky to have social media, because you can see thousands of videos of colors and techniques, so it’s really nice to see what a lot of chefs in different parts of the world are doing. Obviously, Antonio is a big part of my chef inspiration. I love flowers and there’s this one account that I really love because they have a lot of nice colors and things that make me really happy. The account is @majachocolat.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
I love making macarons. I don’t know what it is. When I started training with Chef Antonio at St. Regis, the first time I made them, I don’t know what it was but I loved them right away. The feeling, the technique, all the steps and having to be so careful with them – then seeing them come out of the oven so pretty and you pair them and add the ganache. It takes a while, once you see the finished product it’s so worth it.
A few weeks ago, I had a competition with my interns on who could pipe them the quickest. I try to make it fun in the kitchen.
What’s your guilty pleasure dessert?
I love molten cake with vanilla ice cream. I love the hot and cold and mixing the melting ice cream with the chocolate cake. When I was working at St. Regis we used to make a molten cake at Jean-Georges, and I think that’s his recipe, and it’s amazing. It’s SO good. I need it all the time.
While I’m so sad that Karina most likely won’t be creating delicious desserts in Miami this summer, I can’t wait to continue following her pastry making adventures around the world and will be first in line the moment she’s back in a local kitchen!
Get Social and follow Karina on her adventures on Instagram @karinarc_5