Some might say that Carlos Enriquez has just had his 15 minutes of fame. Last month, after surviving eight weeks of competition on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts, the Block 16 Hospitality Group executive pastry chef was eliminated from the show and sent back to the real world.
But the 34-year-old Los Angeles native is more than a flash-in-the-pan; he’s a Vegas tastemaker. Locals who’ve slurped milkshakes at Red Rock Resort’s LBS Burger Joint, tourists who’ve tucked into candy shop classics at Holsteins and fine diners who’ve nibbled on chocolate cake at the Barrymore all owe Enriquez for the sweet finish to their meals.
“It’s fun because each restaurant allows me to do something different,” he says. “I can go simple with one menu and whimsical with another. Right now, at the Barrymore, I work on plates that are more refined. They’re modern twists on classic staples.”
Enriquez’s take on apple pie, designed for the Barrymore’s inaugural dessert menu, is what he considers a perfect fall dessert. A crumble topping replaces the traditional top blanket of pie dough, while the flavors of brown butter and Calvados (French apple brandy) put a sophisticated spin on an otherwise ordinary dish.
“I like adding alcohol to my desserts at the Barrymore, so this is not a recipe to test on the kids,” he quips.
However, cooks need not be intimidated—the dish may sound fancy, but it doesn’t require a treasure hunt for ingredients. Enriquez eschews obscure apple varieties in favor of a simple Granny Smith from the supermarket. “Green apples are great to cook with for the holidays,” he says. “They have a tartness that I like. Save sweeter red-skinned apples for spring.”
Enriquez also modified his recipe for the home baker. Those looking for the plated version of this pie will have to make reservations at the restaurant, and quickly—while the chef is still in the house every night. Once the Barrymore finds its groove, Enriquez will have to turn his attention to Holsteins’ national expansion, as well as oversee the opening of Public House, a forthcoming 300-seat gastropub at the Venetian.
With so many projects on the horizon, it sounds like Enriquez still has plenty of minutes in the spotlight ahead of him.
(Makes 12 individual pies)
Apple Pie Filling
- 2 pounds Granny Smith apples
- 1 ounce unsalted butter
- 7 ounces brown sugar
- 1 gram ground cinnamon
- ½ gram ground nutmeg
- ½ gram ground ginger
- ½ gram ground cloves
- Zest of ¼ an orange
Melt butter, add the remaining ingredients and cook until tender. Cool before filling pie shells. To assemble, fill the pie shells with apple filling and top with crumble mix (see pie shell and crumble recipes at WeeklySeven.com/dining). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Russell Gardner, beer and cocktail expert at the Barrymore, recommends the Harvest ($10.50) to accompany this pie. “This drink will remind you of fall,” he says. “Clove, allspice, and cinnamon jump out of the glass and elevate the spice level of the pie, making it bolder and more extreme. The brown-butter crumble helps mellow the spice and then brings everything back down to earth.” Finish with a spoonful of ice cream or sherbet to cleanse the palate, then bite, sip, and repeat.