Out on the Town: Top Chef Zac Young’s New York

GayCities New York Editor, JJ Keyes, caught up with effervescent Zac Young, one of the contestants on the inaugural season of Top Chef Just Desserts for a few tips on the Big Apple.

Name: Zac Young
New York City
Hails From: Portland, Maine
Profession: Executive Pastry Chef,
Flex Mussels
Relationship Status: Taken; After nine years he finally came to his senses and said “yes” to a date
Favorite City: New York
Best New York ‘Hood:
Hell’s Kitchen
Spotted on a typical New York Friday Night: Work then swilling and touring the Hell’s Kitchen bars aka “The Dance Belt”

We love you on Top Chef Just Desserts. When did you start baking and did you always know you wanted to be a pastry chef?
I started baking in college (Boston Conservatory). Growing up my vegan mother never made cookies. I wanted to teach myself how. I wanted to be a costume designer.  While working in the wig department of the Radio City Christmas Spectaular, I realized I loved baking more than theater. No offense to the Rockettes, they were great. Perhaps that’s where I got my love of glitter.

Role model?
Martin Howard. The man is a master of American whimsy. Who else makes desserts served in molded chocolate high heels?

Where were you when you found out you were going to be on the show?
In the shower.

That’s nice. Anything you wish you would have known before you got out of the shower and started filming?
There are no days off. You finish an episode and start the next one. There is no time off. Most of the time we are crying out of shear exhaustion, not because we are happy or sad.

Signature pastry?
Doughnuts. At Flex Mussels we serve 12 different flavors, anything from peanut butter and bacon to salted caramel or meyer lemon. Some nights we go through 250 pieces. I now know the meaning of “time to make the doughnuts.”

When did you move to the city?
I lived here the summer between high school and college and fell in love with the city. My first job was bussing tables at Tavern on the Green. I didn’t know what a bus boy did. I poured water and served bread but never cleared or re-set a table. I was too busy talking to the guests. I moved here permenently in 2003, and started working coat check at Tao. I may or may not have tried on the furs.

Mums the word. Hey, what are a few of your favorite restaurants in town?
Market Table, The Red Cat, I Trulli

After dinner treat?
I like to get dessert at the restaurant to complete the dining experience. After, my treat is  a good cocktail. Little Branch or PDT do the trick.

What are some of your other favorite places to go out for drinks?
The Ritz, Therapy, Posh, Vynl, and my “Cheers” Suite.

Favorite New York moment?
Everyday, walking down the street, and running into random friends. For a city of 8 million people, sometimes it feels like a little village. A little, gay, inbred village.

Photo by Bravo