Desserts

Online: Michaela Moehring of Church & Union

Otl Michaela

The 23-year-old executive pastry chef leads a new sweet dessert program
COURTESY

Age: 23

Hometown: Madison, Wis.

Currently lives: Downtown

Reading: Lead from goal by Nick Craig

Currently watching: Desperate Housewives

Where does your love of baking come from? It was a combination of my mother and cake boss. I used to watch this when I was a kid and thought it was so cool. I would make my own fondant by melting marshmallows in the microwave and mashing them with powdered sugar. Bless my mother for cleaning up this mess.

How did this opportunity with 5th Street Group come to you? I moved here in 2016 when I was 17. I was a freshman at Johnson & Wales looking for a job. I had never been to Charlotte and started wandering the streets. I walked around 5Church, submitted an application and received no response. I sent a few more emails; no answer. Then they finally reached out and I got an interview and then a job. They invested a lot of time and energy in helping me grow.

So you were a full-time student and a full-time employee? Yeah. During the four years I was in school, I worked at 5Church. I worked 70 to 80 hours a week, so I skipped a lot of classes (laughs). But I made the dean’s list anyway! I graduated in 2020 with a diploma in food service management.

How do you divide your time between the Charlotte restaurants on 5th Street? When they opened La Belle Helene last year, it had a kitchen five times the size of 5Church’s. It has therefore become our production kitchen, where we prepare all the desserts for the two restaurants.

Are there any new desserts you’ve rolled out since 5Church rebranded as Church & Union? At 5Church, we’ve made lots of comfort foods, like Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Carrot Cake, and S’mores have always been a bestseller. I’ve been begging Chef Jamie (Lynch) to take S’mores off the menu and do something different for years. He texted me before Church & Union opened and told me they were scrapping the S’mores! I replace it with our vision of a Milky Way.

Breakfast dessert: hard no or hell, yes? Damn yes!

What ingredient do you always have on hand? Sugar.

What do you think is the underrated flavor? Yam.

What do you prefer to cook? Hot desserts like cobblers or crisps.

Is there a recipe you would still like to master? A perfect pavlova. It’s like dried meringue. You have to be in a perfect environment, and the South is not a perfect environment for that.

What is your favorite restaurant in Charlotte other than your own? Pepper pot.

What is the most surprising thing about you? I am a very loving and happy human being, but I give off a different personality in the kitchen. You have to be stern with your staff in a respectful way, and as a manager you have to say the tough things that others don’t want to say.

What restaurant chain are you not ashamed to admit you love? Olive Garden, hands down.

What do you like to do outside of the kitchen? Music festivals and concerts are my getaways.

Rules to follow in the kitchen? It’s just food; it’s not so bad. We can still have a good time.


DIFFICULT THINGS

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Marguerite or martini? margarita

Ice cream or hot chocolate? Ice cream

Carrot cake or apple pie? Apple pie

Banana bread or banana pudding? banana bread

Crispy topping or sweet drizzle? Crunchy filling

Eat in the street or sit down? Eat on the street

sugar rush Where The great British pastry fair? sugar rush