Meet Sarah Dodge, pastry chef of Atlanta's 8 Arm cafe. She makes scratch breads and treats inspired by her childhood and has one of the best biscuit recipes in the south. We asked her some questions on what she makes for herself when she's not at work, plus her food inspirations, culinary idols, and favorite menu item she's created for 8 Arm. Follow Sarah on the internet at @sedodge for epic photos of her tasty creations. If you're in Atlanta, visit 8 Arm on Ponce Ave for a good time.
All photos by Sarah Dodge.
We want to know what chefs eat. What do you enjoy making for yourself at home? Do you go all out, or keep it simple?
I keep it super simple at home. I eat a LOT of vegetables, usually roast them and add them to a grain of sort like brown rice or chickpeas, throw together a simple dressing and voila.
What’s your go to recipe?
I think my go to recipe at home is my pain au levain with burrata, olive oil, and this sea salt my mom brought me from France. It's so delicious and comforting and I always have the ingredients at home. My second go to is definitely pork tacos.
What's your favorite menu item you’ve created for 8 Arm? Which are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the cinnamon roll. I’ve always loved it but didn't think others would buy into its size, but they have and I just love how much joy people get from it. I feel like it's nostalgic for people, which makes me really happy.
How do you find inspiration for recipes?
Inspiration comes from whims, travels, and a lot of nostalgia.
Are you experimenting with any new flavors or concepts?
Hmmm, trying to experiment with more savory. Doing my version of the Cheddar Bay biscuit. Damn delicious. Also, constantly trying different breads using better whole grain flours.
Sourdough or Brioche? Bagel or Biscuit?
Sourdough for sure. I think I'd go bagel. A good bagel is hard to find in the south and I really love my bagel. I make salmon bagels all the time for myself, definitely a comfort food for me.
Do you source your ingredients locally? Any particular place you enjoy getting your ingredients the most?
We source most of our produce locally. I LOVE the East Atlanta Farmers Market on Thursday's in ATL and Saturday’s Freedom Farmers Market, always great stuff. I also head to the mountains for good apples and berries. I am trying to look into sourcing my flours locally, as I think locally grown and milled grains are the final frontier for eating locally.
When did you know that you wanted to become a pastry chef?
Haha, I still don't know... just kidding. I kind of just really love it and kept getting jobs that kept pushing me further and I never stopped loving it. I guess I’ll keep going ‘til I don't love it anymore.
What’s your background? Are you formally trained?
My background is simply a lot of hard work and working for some of the coolest bakers and chefs. I've learned through mentors and a lot of constant research. I'm pretty insatiable when it comes to learning about food. I am not formally trained.
What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
My rolling pin, and my Grammy’s cast iron, and my bench scraper.
Growing up, was food celebrated in your home? Did you become interested in cooking because of your family?
Not really, honestly. My parents were pretty healthy and promoted healthy eating (no candy, or soda, or crap), but we weren't like a crazy innovative-cooking family. But, I think my mom did a good job of having fun with feeding us. I always remember breakfast for dinner was my favorite meal of the week. I enjoyed my grandparents cooking culture as well, lots of southern vegetables, baking, cooking what you had.
Who are some of your culinary idols? If you could serve them a dish what would it be?
Anyone who cooks and bakes to the beat of their own drum and endures, I admire. There is a whole lot of tapping into what other people are being successful at and it's annoying. I also admire old-school when it comes to bread and pastry. I admire Nancy Silverton, Fergus Henderson, Brooks Headley, Tartine, Jessica Koslow. If I could serve one dish, it would be a glorious piece of sourdough bread, toasted to perfection, served with really good butter, thinly sliced radishes and good sea salt.
Do you have anything you’re looking forward to coming up? Anything else you’d like to share?
Just looking forward to keepin’ on. Hoping to do some continuing ed-baking stuff somewhere in the world so we'll see if that works out.
Thank you Sarah Dodge for your words and bagels.
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