Oyster House’s newest addition is pastry chef Danielle Amabile, who seemingly lives to give us what we love: Dessert. The former sweets slinger for restauranteur Stephen Starr has made her way to the Center City seafood haunt. Keeping with the Oyster House tradition, Amabile will keep her menu seasonal and ridiculously tempting.
How’s it going over at Oyster House?
Great. It’s the second week of Restaurant Week so it’s busy, but it’s the fun kind of busy where you need to hit the ground running.
Some chefs seem to dread Restaurant Week. Do you like it?
It’s a nice change of pace. It’s a necessary evil, so to speak. I’ve been working them for a few years now and it’s fast and furious but it gets a lot of people in the door. So, I’m not mad at it. I’ve never gone out to restaurant week in the years I’ve worked it, and for no good reason. Probably just because I’ve been so busy and I don’t have time to go out. But I do like to read a lot of other menus to see what other places can mass produce.
You’ve worked at Alma De Cuba and Pod before this, right?
Yes, I was with Starr for about seven years.
How do you come up with a dessert menu that appropriately reflects each restaurant?
The menu at Oyster House practically writes itself because it’s so seasonal. I talk to the executive chef and find out what produce we have for the week and go from there. So if we have a ton of peaches I need to think about what to do with peaches. But I love to cook from nostalgia. I ask servers what they would want for dessert on their birthday. I like to know what everyone likes so I can make dessert that excites them.
How about when it’s a family member’s birthday? Does everyone look to you to make the dessert?
They really do! It’s just one of those things. Christmas, Thanksgiving, even barbeques – they ask, ‘What did you make?’
What are you up to on your days off?
Well I spent a lot of time around the pool, but now summer’s over. I’m going to enjoy the fall before it gets too cold. I’ll probably go out to Linvilla Orchards and get bushels of apples to work with.
What’s your favorite ingredient to use?
Tons. Right now I’m playing with this chocolate hazelnut crème. Everyone loves Nutella, that’s no secret. This is similar, but it isn’t processed like Nutella is, so you just get this wonderful combination of hazelnut and chocolate.