For the past two years, pastry chef Josh Short took a sabbatical from the DC area dessert scene to launch From Scratch Baking Co. in Charlottesville. Those who fondly remember his sweets from Red Sage and Zola can now find Short just across the river at Alexandria's Buzz Bakery, where he’s recently taken over as top toque. “I’m just a city boy at heart,” he says. In this new post, he’ll also oversee the desserts at Buzz’s sister restaurants: Tallula, EatBar, Rustico, Evening Star Cafe and Vermilion.
After cooking school at the New England Culinary Institute, Short took his first pastry job at the extravagant Le Cirque in Las Vegas. He’s cooked at the James Beard House in New York and served as a guest pastry chef in the West Wing of the White House.
We caught up with the Nebraska native, who now lives in Dupont Circle, to ask about his personal food faves. Just listening to his descriptions of favorite cakes, cookies, brownies, and ice cream made our mouths water.
Favorite cupcake at Buzz: Vanilla on Vanilla. Or, the Bumble Bee. It’s a vanilla cupcake, hollowed out, filled with chocolate, topped witht vanilla frosting and a little bumble bee on top.
Favorite kind of cookie: That’s like choosing one of your children. Right now it’s a sugar cookie, or the traditional chocolate chip, which is awesome. But then there’s the turtle too, which is really good…it’s got white chocolate, dark chocolate and pecans.
Chocolate or vanilla? On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m vanilla; Thursday, Friday and Saturday I’m more chocolate. You need the yin and yang. I’m really big into estate chocolates right now. They’re grown in different areas, and have different percentages of cacao. It’s kind of like wine. Right now I have a nice one from Costa Rica. I’m starting to do brownies from different regions, like how you would do a wine tasting.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Soft-serve vanilla ice cream with really good olive oil drizzled on it, and sea salt.
Brownies – cakey or fudgy? Do you prefer a classic brownie, or add extra ingredients? Oh, fudgy. I just did a Farmhouse brownie with really dark chocolate, walnuts, and espresso inside. It kinda depends on the day. Some days you want to mess around and have something different. I made a brownie last week with a red wine reduction, cinnamon, and cardamom. I reduced it down and added it to my brownie. It’s not on the menu yet, but it will be.
Favorite fruit: Actually, an apple. They’re so versatile. You can do anything with them—candy them, caramelize them, bake them in a cake.
Favorite summer dessert: Right now I’m into cherries. I recently made a cherry clafouti, and an almond tart with fresh cherries inside.
Favorite local restaurant: I just went on a tour last weekend. I went to the new Proof—it was amazing. My favorite thing was the champagne trolley.
Favorite restaurant dessert menu: I’m partial to the desserts in Las Vegas. But the best place I’ve been in DC has been Hook. I loved the taleggio ice cream. We just asked for a side of that—it came with another dessert. I had the sauteed cherries with a black pepper shortbread.
Favorite dish to make at home: I cook all the time at home. On Sunday we did grilled peaches with blackberry brandy and vanilla ice cream.
Favorite dessert from childhood: My grandma used to make an oatmeal cake with cream cheese frosting. I tried to do it, but it didn’t come out so well. Grandmas do it best.
Favorite post-work hangout: We like to go the Ritz in Georgetown and have a glass of champagne. Not saying we do that all the time, but…