This past March, Max Santiago abruptly announced his departure from the Salty Donut, Wynwood's famed artisanal doughnut shop. Now the acclaimed pastry chef has joined the Sugar Factory American Brasserie chain as a corporate pastry chef.
Santiago is responsible for all 19 Sugar Factory locations, including outposts on Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive. He's also in charge of creating the pastry and dessert menu for the upcoming Sugar Factory Patisserie & Gummy World, slated to open on Española Way in South Beach within the next year.
"This isn't going to be a regular bakery," he says. "I'm going to do what I do well, which is fine-dining desserts in a bakery style. It's basically putting what you would see on a dessert plate inside a display case."
According to Santiago, sweets lovers will soon find a selection of gourmet cakes, tarts, and parfaits. Though he can't divulge the Sugar Factory's new dessert menu yet, he says diners might encounter treats like banana panna cotta with peanut butter, caramelized bananas, and chocolate curls. Sometime this summer, Santiago's improved dessert display case will debut at the Sugar Factory on Ocean Drive.
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Though Santiago left the Salty Donut a few months after its brick-and-mortar location opened, doughnuts aren't out of his future. He will also help the Sugar Factory launch a doughnut shop concept.
The first Sugar Factory Artisanal Doughnut & Coffee Bar is expected to open two locations in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side and at the Gansevoort Market, and one in Los Angeles. A Sugar Factory doughnut shop might open in Miami too, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
For now, Santiago is concentrating on an overhaul of the Sugar Factory's pastry and dessert cases at all of its locations, as well as the launch of the brand's doughnut shop in New York City.
While Santiago moves onto a new chapter, the Salty Donut shows no signs of slowing. In the past two months, the shop hosted its second-annual National Doughnut Day party, which sold out days before the event; collaborated with LIV's David Grutman on a rainbow doughnut; and teamed up with Shake Shack to create a concrete custard doughnut dessert. Despite Santiago's departure, the Salty Donut continues to unveil new creative flavors each week. Recent flavors have ranged from orange and olive oil cake doughnuts to a white chocolate tres leches.