In times of crisis, people crave comfort foods. Few things accomplish that like the smell of fresh baked goods wafting through your home.
That’s likely why sales of King Arthur’s flour skyrocketed by 2,000% in the month of March as lockdown began for many in the United States. For Detroit-based pastry chef Lena Sareini, she relates baking in the kitchen to making art.
“People have a lot of time on their hands and baking involves a lot of babysitting.” — Lena Sareini, Selden Standard
“I was always really into drawing and painting, so I chose a profession that coincided. Now people get to eat my art,” says Sareini. “I like to make things really colorful. I like to use edible flowers and nice touches like that. Keep it really simple and let the food talk but also make it really pretty and enjoyable for your eyes as well.”
Listen: how Selden Standard’s Lena Sareini went from selling French macarons out of her house to becoming a James Beard-nominated chef
Sareini studied culinary arts at Schoolcraft College directly after high school. Once she graduated, her first job in the kitchen was at the acclaimed Detroit restaurant Selden Standard.
In five years there, she’s been nominated three times for a James Beard award, which is often likened to the “Oscars of food.” This year, she’s a semifinalist in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category.
When it comes to cooking during quarantine, Sareini says the extra time has finally allowed people to enjoy baking — even Sareini herself, who normally doesn’t rush home to bake for herself after a long day in the kitchen at Selden Standard, which is currently closed due to COVID-19.
“Now, people have a lot of time on their hands and baking involves a lot of babysitting,” says Sareini. “Right now, I’ve been doing things like a simple pancetta that you can throw together.”
Sareini’s YouTube page offers recipes and advice like how to get your sourdough starter going at home, how to prepare a restaurant-quality dessert dish at home.
Watch her video on how to make cultured butter below.