By Debbie Hall
Brigette Contreras, executive pastry chef for STK in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, is passionate about creating desserts that is more than something sweet after dinner. It is more about combining taste with style and creativity and adding a seasonal touch.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, when she was a child, Contreras would like to cook as well as serve the food. She would explain the components of the meal much like a chef. When she got older, her father was diagnosed with high cholesterol and Contreras wanted to get trained so she could cook healthier meals for her father. She appreciates the irony that she would ultimately become a pastry chef.
Attending California Culinary Academy and finishing her education at The Kitchen Academy, Contreras began her career at Blowfish Sushi preparing salads. After the restaurant closed, she decided to try pastry. “I admit I was a novice but I was hired, trained and mentored by the pastry chef at Wilshire Restaurant,” she explained. “I realized I was good at this and I need to embrace it.” She would ultimately become the pastry chef at the restaurant and expected to remain in Los Angeles close to her family.
While working at STK in Los Angeles, STK in Las Vegas reached out to Contreras about relocating. It took over six months to convince her, but Contreras made the move. “Las Vegas is home now.”
As for creating pastry, according to Contreras, it begins in her mind. She gets ideas for a dessert and its components, how to prepare and plate it. She will then write down her ideas. Contreras will prepare her recipes multiple times before it is a perfect composed dish and she can teach her staff how to execute it. She will offer it as a special and if the guests love it, Contreras will add it to the menu.
“I like to keep my desserts seasonal. For winter, I like to create warm desserts and in the summer, the desserts are light and fruity,” she explained.
Contreras was recently awarded the Pastry Chef of the Year by the Nevada Restaurant Association. The annual event honors Las Vegas’ most innovative chefs and restaurateurs for their continued commitment to their craft and to the community. The award recognized Contreras for her artistic and multi-inspirational style and continued passion, dedication and commitment to advancing the pastry industry as a whole through sharing her expertise, skills and knowledge with younger generations. It is considered one of the most competitive categories.
“I’m honored to have received this recognition and to have been nominated alongside so many other great talented chefs,” said Contreras. “The STK Las Vegas team continues to strive for excellence and has really allowed me to showcase what I love to do and I’m so grateful to share that with not only our guests, but the Las Vegas community.”
STK is a unique concept that blends the modern steakhouse and chic lounge, offering a fine dining experience with the quality of a traditional steakhouse. For more information about STK, visit stkhouse.com.