Turkish king of sweets in San Francisco
Hilal İşler - SAN FRANCISCOIt may be eight in the morning, but pastry chef Yiğit Pura is already on his third espresso. “I’ve been up since five,” he says, cheerfully.
Pura is a busy man as he is building an empire. “There’s a really great phrase in English: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he says.
“It’s so true. I literally work 18 or 20 hours a day and won’t take a day off for months at a time. But I’ve never once in my life said: ‘I hate what I do. I wish I could do something else,’ because I’m living my passion. That’s huge,” he said.
In 2011, Pura made a name for himself by becoming the first ever winner of the U.S. televised cooking competition “Top Chef Desserts.” Today, the Ankara-born baker is the owner and executive chef behind the popular Tout Sweet Patisserie in San Francisco’s Union Square.
The store opened in 2012 (on the third floor of Macy’s), and a second location has been doing business in Palto Alto since the beginning of this year. Pura also has a cookbook out now, called “Sweet Alchemy.”
“The book is about the art of dessert-making, because baking is definitely art meets science,” he said. “And a little bit of magic. And love. And passion.”
Pura emigrated to the U.S. from Turkey when he was 12 years old.
“My grandfather was a restaurateur. But ironically my mother was so adamantly against my being in the kitchen, as a boy, that she kept trying to discourage me,” he said.
Eventually though, mother and son began baking together.
“My mother’s very old school-Turkish. She would never stray from a recipe. She would say: ‘Well, it has been made this way for 100, 200, 300 years. There’s no other way it can be made!’ But with me, I’m all about breaking it down, making it better, making it a little more interesting. Otherwise, what’s the point?” Pura said.
Pura’s desserts can be sampled digitally at www.toutsweetsf.com