Meet Kate Bates

Tampa Bay Food Tours Partner Spotlight Series

We love our restaurant partners!  Each month we will be highlighting a special person behind the scenes that help make our Food Tours exceptional.  We hope you find their stories and passion as inspiring as we do.

Bon Appetit!

This month, we feature Kate Bates, the Executive Pastry Chef at Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Photo Credit: Kelly Marley Experiential Photography

A Classically French Trained Pastry Chef, Kate is a warrior in the culinary world, and is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina.  Kate oversees 8-12 pastry chefs, designs many of the creations in the bakery, and assures high quality ingredients are always on hand to create her delectable pastries.  Catering and special events are also under Kate’s watchful eye.

Behind every successful woman is a journey of ups and downs, and Kate is no different.  Relentless in her pursuit to bring happiness to people, she continued to follow her heart, from working all aspects of her mom’s restaurant at age 15, to entering art school, and finally finishing at the Culinary School in Columbus Ohio.  Keep in mind, the culinary program was 3 years in duration, during which the students were required to work 40 hours a week in a restaurant, in addition to the classroom work.  That is dedication to one’s passion!  

Upon graduation, Kate went on to study under one of the world’s most acclaimed pastry chefs, Francois Payard, in New York City.  Payard runs one of the most successful patisseries in the country, and also one of the most competitive training grounds for up and coming pastry chefs.  As only one of two women in the program, he called her “Girl with a Spoon” rather than use her name. The program was tough, with students from all over the world, and many did not make it.  Often times feeling disregarded and undervalued, she persisted with determination. Not only did she survive, but she thrived, and was promoted in his kitchen!

Promotion in Payard’s kitchen meant Kate began her day  with 24 other pastry chefs at 2:00 am, producing 100 cakes and 2,000 macaroons by 7:00 am!  The rest of the day was spent organizing and preparing to do it all over again.  Six days a week!

Kate has since worked around the country, in country clubs, various pastry shops, and even as a private chef for a family in Terre Verde for several years.  Locale Market in St. Petersburg is now the lucky recipient of her talents!

Working alongside Jeffrey Hileman, the Executive Chef at Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina, Kate is able to weave her personal style into her pastries by incorporating the same flavor in a variety of ways to make it uniquely her own.  The exception is the chocolate chip cookie at Locale Market, which is the original recipe of Michael Mina. Michael is a celebrity chef and owner of The Mina Group. Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina are among his 40+ restaurants world wide.  This is a recipe not to be tampered with, and since it is the most popular selling item in the Market, there is no reason to alter perfection!

 

Here are a few impressive stats from Kate’s pastry kitchen

 

  • 7 – 8 varieties of cookies are available
  • 90 chocolate chip cookies baked each day
  • 94 varieties of pastries and bread are produced
  • 13,000 – 15,000 individual pieces are produced monthly
  • 1,500 pounds of flour are used each week
  • 150 pounds of sugar are used each week
  • Gluten free and vegan options can be made upon request
  • The month of December can produce 25-40% of the annual sales
  • Special order cakes and pies consume the kitchen during the holidays
Photo Credit: Kelly Marley Experiential Photography

In a kitchen buzzing with this much activity, it’s easy to underestimate the science and precision needed in creating exceptional pastry.  Every piece is made from scratch, nothing is made from a packaged ingredient, and there is very little forgiveness in inaccurate measurement.  Baking is truly a science! Yet, Kate is always mindful of etiquette learned in her early days, which includes always saying “good morning” and “good night” each day to her fellow chefs.  Each day begins anew in the kitchen, where one’s true personality is revealed. It involves long hours and hard work, and is truly a craft of love.

As Kate says, it’s the little moments of happiness she can bring to others that inspire her to constantly raise the bar in the kitchen.  Watching someone’s face light up when tasting one of her creations is Kate’s ultimate reward.

Here are a few of Kate’s Halloween cakes.  They are truly amazing, and her years spent at art school shine through her culinary creations!

Photo Credit: Kelly Marley Experiential Photography

In addition to the bakery, FarmTable Cucina offers a full menu, and is one of our favorite stops on our St. Pete Beach Drive Dine and Wine Food Tours.  We truly love bringing our guests to this special place!

Photo Credit: Kelly Marley Experiential Photography

Wrapping up our time together, I asked Kate how Anthony Bourdain impacted her life and career.  Being a huge fan, his untimely and tragic death left a mark on me and many others. I could immediately see how meaningful Bourdain was to Kate, and how deeply affected she was by his incredible warmth and genuine personality.  His influence in her kitchen is obvious in her grace and spirit.

And on that misty-eyed note, we hope you stop in and say hello to Kate, and enjoy her artistic creations!

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Photo Credit: Kelly Marley Experiential Photography

Bon Appetit!

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