Things are looking sweet for Yigit Pura, now that he’s won the coveted top spot on Bravo’s hit “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” So, now what?
“That’s a very good question,” the 30-year-old says with a chuckle. “I definitely wanted this [win] to happen for The City.”
And The City thanks him. But Pura is a rarity. Many local chefs and hairdressers have appeared in a bounty of reality TV outings over the years, but few have taken home top honors.
All this bodes well for Pura, who’s relishing the publicity and immense online buzz, but eager to move onto the next phase of his life.
Originally from Ankara, Turkey, he actually began his culinary training when he was 4 — his mother used to make him a hefty spoonful of dark caramel. Good incentives, no doubt.
He went on to turn heads in the pastry kitchen at The Meetinghouse in The City — his first job in the U.S., actually — before taking on the Big Apple and Las Vegas.
Things shifted three years ago when Pura returned to San Francisco, this time with Taste Catering and Event Planning as executive pastry chef.
“I think we really stay true to the local and sustainable concept,” he says of the unique nature of the culinary scene in The City. “A lot of my chef friends, when they visit from New York, are just flabbergasted.”
While he says that working with food and creating memorable desserts is something that comes “very natural” to him, the stint on “Top Chef” stretched his skills.
“For each challenge in the competitions, whatever you did in the past, it didn’t matter, so I really tried to keep it fresh,” he says. “We were definitely thrown out of our comfort zones, and working under excruciating limits. Chefs are usually very controlling creatures — we always have to know what’s going on.”
For the show’s final challenge, he created a progressive four-course tasting menu with an exotic “dance through your palate” theme.
The desserts included cucumber-lime sorbet with Straus yogurt caviar pearls; strawberry sorbet and lemongrass-ginger ice cream with berry meringue and consommé; muscovado-braised pineapple and coconut cake served with coconut-lime soup with tapioca pearls; and hazelnut dacquoise, milk jam and salted caramel ice cream.
What does he feel nabbed him the top spot?
“I think I created a very clever, consistent menu and every plate looked good,” he says. “I really poured my heart and soul into it.” Fortunately, Pura isn’t done creating. Not yet. With a total winnings of $110,000, he has his sights on other delicious ventures.
“I hope to open up a very high-end concept dessert/pastry shop on a great street in San Francisco,” he says. “I think it’s something that The City can definitely appreciate. I’m very excited about that.”