Hedy Goldsmith and Diet Pepsi have teamed up for a trucking excursion to the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. You can catch them at Sunday night's "Trucks on the Beach" event, where Hedy's signature chocolate chunk cookies (with a hint of Maldon salt on top) will be handed out -- except these are infused with Diet Pepsi. Diet Pepsi ice cream floats will also be on hand, as will plenty of newly-designed cans of Diet Pepsi. You might also have seen the light-blue-colored truck around town the past couple of days, as it has been parking at various spots and passing out treats. Alas, the sizzling star of Diet Pepsi's commercials, Sofia Vergara, is not touring with the truck.
The tie-in timing with Hedy couldn't be better for the soft drink company: Miami's most famous dessert maven, whose treats play an essential role at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, is fresh off a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef. We had a short chat with the confectionery queen about the nomination, what's new at Michael's, and the notion of dunking chocolate chunk cookies into Diet Pepsi.
New Times: Congratulations on the Beard nomination.
Hedy Goldsmith: Thank you. It's an honor, it really is.
You've been nominated before, right?
I've been nominated two times (prior to this one).
Who are you up against?
Oh, only all of my dearest friends. Like Mindy Segal (Mindy's Hot Chocolate, Chicago); she's been nominated seven times and hasn't won.
The Susan Lucci of pastry chefs. Maybe if she wins this year you can become the Susan Lucci...
I hope not. I just want to bring it home. But the pastry chefs nominated are all unbelievable.
How did you create the Diet Pepsi-infused cookies?
I replaced some of the sugar and some of the vanilla with Diet Pepsi. It was a really unique experience, and it's fun.
How does it taste?
It really has a refreshing taste -- sort of a cool, interesting take on a chocolate chunk cookie.
Will it still pair with the same stuff -- milk, coffee?
Absolutely. And with Diet Pepsi.
Oh, yes, of course. Nothing quite like dipping cookies into Diet Pepsi.
What's new with desserts at Michael's?
We're playing with a birthday cake of the day on the menu. So everybody gets a birthday cake who orders it, and they'll get a sparkler. We're doing pies-in-a-jar that change every day, depending upon what's available. We' taking the pie crust and putting it into a jar and layering in various textures and flavors.
A Mason jar?
Yes. It's fun, and it allows us to be able to do desserts we wouldn't normally be able to do in a restaurant situation. Everything is made fresh, it sells out, and the next day the same thing. So it's constantly moving.
What's new in the Cayman Islands?
Michael's just won best dessert at the Cayman Islands Cook-Out that was down there.
You might have had something to do with that, right?
Maybe a little bit. I got my sweet fingers in there.
What's the winning dessert?
It's a lemon-lime pie with passion fruit meringue. It's very crisp, refreshing, and light -- great for the hot Cayman weather. And where did our winter go? What's happening is that the mangos are blooming now. It's messed up.
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What else are you doing at the Festival this weekend?
Having fun in the sun. I'll be on the beach with Diet Pepsi, and I have an event Saturday night (tonight) at the Marlins Stadium, "Diamond Dishes," with Scott (Conant) and Michelle (Bernstein). Every time I work with Michelle and Scott it's a happy day for me. She's my kindred spirit from our Mark's Place days. We go back. I was his pastry chef.
Wasn't Kris Wessel in that kitchen as well?
Wessel was there, along with a lot of wonderful chefs.
Which brings us full circle back to the SoBeWFF this weekend. Look for the Diet Pepsi truck on the beach and grab a cookie, float, or Diet Pepsi -- and say hello to Hedy.