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The Interview Issue: Raku Sweets’ pastry prodigy Mio Ogasawara

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Chef Mio looks for ways to make every dessert at Raku Sweets a little more perfect.
Photo: L.E. Baskow

Vital Stats

Age: 29

Hometown: Ehime, Japan

Serious cred: She worked in a cake shop in Japan making 1,000 cakes a day.

When you’re creating a dish, how does the process work? I start with a concept that’s seasonal, especially seasonal fruit. I will taste all the fruits from that season and figure out which is the best. From there, I think about how to put it together. Does that go into cake mix? Does that go into sauces?

What’s your favorite part of making a dessert? I have most of my fun at the very end. The decoration brings me out; I love that part. Every step that I go through on the way to my favorite step, I have a moment where I think about how to make it better. It’s very difficult, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Chef Mio Ogasawara shows off Angel Cream, a light cheese and pear mousse dessert on the (edible) menu at Raku Sweets.

Chef Mio Ogasawara shows off Angel Cream, a light cheese and pear mousse dessert on the (edible) menu at Raku Sweets.

What do you think about the way American restaurants do pastry? Everything in America is so big. You can’t eat it all.

Are there flavors that you can’t find here that you miss? In Japan, there are tens and hundreds of different strawberries. Each and every one has a different glucose (or sugar) percentage. They have different colors. Some of them are soft; some of them are hard; one of them can be $25. There’s a white strawberry, too, that’s very expensive. And in my world, we use those. We have a pear that we eat like a soup. They can’t send fruits from Japan because it’s a customs thing, but if I had the chance, I’d order everything from Japan.

Do you have a favorite cake or pastry that you’ve created? Where I worked before this, I made both cakes that were my ideas and the shop’s recipes. But here it’s only me, 100 percent. I don’t have a sous chef or anything, so these are my 100 percent plus 100 percent favorite pastries.

When you want a guilty pleasure snack, what’s your favorite thing? Potato chips. In Japan, they have these pizza-flavored potato chips, and when I was really young, I used to dip them in vanilla ice cream. It’s very good.

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