The Chef: Danielle Lewis (Gilt Bar)
The Challenger: Greg Bastien (The Winchester)
The Ingredient: Chamomile

Danielle Lewis of Gilt Bar says that chamomile­—the ingredient with which Winchester chef Greg Bastien challenged her to create a dish—isn’t among her favorite flavors. “I associate it with tea, and I don’t usually drink chamomile tea,” she says. “It was a little bit of a stretch for me to work with.”

She tried to track down fresh chamomile flowers (which are part of the daisy family), but her usual vendors couldn’t find it. She’d just been discussing the situation with Tony Diaz, the chef at sister restaurant Maude’s Liquor Bar, when he went home to find a bouquet of small white chamomile flowers that his wife had recently bought. He brought them in, and the two chefs tasted the fresh flowers.

“They’re actually pretty bitter, and it was not pleasant,” Lewis says. Compared with the sweet, floral, apple flavor of dried chamomile, she found the fresh flowers very astringent. Still, she says, the chamomile was too floral to use in a savory dish. Lewis admits she’s less comfortable with pastries than the savory side of cooking, but after tasting the chamomile she decided she had to make a dessert.

Lewis tried candying the fresh flowers, but the petals turned out to be too delicate. Instead, she steeped them in a combination of milk, cream, and sugar, and (after straining out the flowers) turned that liquid into ice cream. She also made an infusion with dried chamomile, steeping it along with vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves in cream that she then strained and added to a caramel sauce. Dried chamomile proved to hold up better to the candying process than the fresh kind, so she made a crumble with candied dried chamomile, pieces of dried apple chips, and toasted almonds.

The apple chips also showed up in Lewis’s dessert on their own; she chose Hidden Rose apples, which have pink flesh, so that the dehydrated disks would look like flower petals. Continuing the apple theme—which Lewis chose to echo the apple flavor of the dried chamomile—she included diced apples poached in honey and wine. The final element was a small piece of cake soaked in ginger-and-lemon-infused syrup.

Despite the dessert’s nice floral and apple flavors, Lewis says she wouldn’t put it on the menu—with all its components, the dish is too fussy for Gilt Bar. “That’s definitely not the style here,” she says.

Who’s next:

Lewis has challenged JP Doiron of CH Distillery to create a dish using squid ink.

Chamomile caramel

150 g cream
2 g vanilla bean paste
3 g dried chamomile
3 g cinnamon bark
2 ea clove
3 g salt
215 g sugar
53 g water
24 g corn syrup
30 g butter

Bring cream to a simmer with vanilla, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, and salt. Remove from heat and let steep, then strain. In a separate pot, heat the sugar, corn syrup, and water to an amber caramel. Off heat, slowly whisk in the strained cream. Once the cream is incorporated, whisk in the butter.

Poached Apples

1 ea apple, small diced
150 g white wine
55 g honey

Bring the wine and honey to a low simmer, reduce, and add apples to poach. When done, cool in the poaching liquid.


117 g dark brown sugar
150 g canola oil
12 g vanilla extract
3 ea eggs
85 g buttermilk
10 g brandy
340 g all-purpose flour
19 g baking powder
6 g salt


5 g ginger
4 g lemon peel
150 g water
50 g sugar

Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer to beat the brown sugar to a fine grain. Slowly incorporate the oil, scraping the bowl as needed. Incorporate the eggs and vanilla, scraping the bowl as needed, followed by the buttermilk and brandy. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix to incorporate. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Bring all ingredients for the soak to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep. Stab the cake with a fork. While the soak is still warm, brush the cake with the mixture.

Apple Chips & Candied Chamomile

160 g simple syrup
1.5 g citric acid
Dried chamomile

Bring simple syrup and citric acid to a simmer. In batches, submerge thinly sliced apples. Once coated, strain apples from liquid and lay on parchment. Using a strainer, do the same for the dried chamomile. In a still oven, put the parchment-lined sheet on the bottom until dried from the pilot light.


5 g apple chips
3 g candied chamomile
4 g toasted almonds

Chop all ingredients separately to resemble coarse mixture.

Chamomile Ice Cream

473 g milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
57 g marscapone
1 g salt
355 g heavy cream
50 g sugar
85 g light corn syrup
6 g fresh chamomile

In a small bowl, create a slurry of the two teaspoons of cornstarch with one ounce of the milk. In another bowl, whisk the marscapone and salt together. Bring the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and chamomile to a boil for four minutes. Off heat, whisk in the slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. Gradually whisk the liquid into the marscapone mixture until smooth. Ice down mixture and strain. Freeze mixture and spin.