Before Merlyn’s: Stella, Red Ginger, Grand Traverse Resort, Nine Bean Rows
Jun Dupra (right)
☑NMC general associate degree, 2009 ☑ NMC Culinary Arts degree, 2014
Before Merlyn’s: Red Ginger (sushi chef), Stella, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago-Beverly Hills, Trump International Hotel & Tower-Chicago, Grand Traverse Resort
GROWING UP IN MANILA, Anna Mae Kucharski loved to cook. But due to the tropical climate in the Philippines, stoves didn’t have ovens. When she entered the baking kitchen at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI), she knew she’d discovered her culinary calling.
“I had never baked in my life. That was just it,” says Kucharski, who studied accounting until that fateful introduction to Baking class.
Kucharski, 38, and her brother Jun Dupra, 35, now fuse French and southeast-Asian flavors with their business, Merlyn’s Patisserie. Named for their mother, Merlyn’s debuted at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market last May, selling out their inventory of 800 croissants and “cruffins” to devotedly enthusiastic customers every Saturday. The most popular flavor: Ube, which comes from a purple, yam-like vegetable.
24 g Gelatin sheet
200 g Water
340 g Sugar
150 g Valrhona cocoa powder
180 ml Heavy cream
Soak the sheet gelatin in water to soften.
Bring everything else to a boil and stir in gelatin to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
FIND MERLYN'S GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE ON THE DESSERT MENU AT RED GINGER IN DOWNTOWN TRAVERSE CITY.
255 g Raspberry puree
112 g Water
224 g Sugar
pinch of Salt
21 g Cornstarch
10 g Gelatin sheet
Soak the sheet gelatin in water to soften. set aside. Mix raspberry puree, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water and add to pot. Mix and cook out the starch. Add the bloomed gelatin to hot mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain to a container and let cool.
“We wanted to put our roots in it,” says Dupra, who says his sister inspired him to enroll in GLCI after he initially chose visual communications.
Merlyn’s confections are crafted in rented commercial kitchen space three days a week. For the winter, they’re at Traverse City’s indoor farmer’s market Saturdays at the Grand Traverse Commons. On social media, find them on Instagram and Facebook. “More surprises” are in store for their second year; eventually they aspire to a brick-and-mortar location.
“It’s just going to get better,” Dupra promises.
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