Houston chef Ryan Hildebrand and his team at Triniti recently announced plans to open a new restaurant/bakery —FM 903 —in the fall of next year. Since its opening nearly two years ago, Triniti has inspired extensive culinary acclaim, especially for its well-executed pastry and dessert menu. The refined, final-course program is crafted by young gun Samantha Mendoza, who recently announced plans to host weekly Saturday bakery pop-ups at Triniti until FM 903 opens in the fall of 2014.
Here, the 24-year-old pastry chef talks pastries, pop-ups, and her favorite dessert.
Layne Lynch: You've been at Triniti for a while now. What do you feel has made the pastry team garner so much local and national attention?
Samantha Mendoza: As soon as I took over the pastry program completely, I knew that I wanted to make it really special. I worked hard to stand out and always make sure everything was made in house. It's been tough trying to control everything from bread, molded chocolates, and desserts all in one day in the same kitchen, which when you work with bread and chocolate the temperature is not so great because of the Houston humidity. I push myself every day with competing in New York and Atlanta and running our pastry program at the same time. The 903 Bakery is going to be a big challenge since I’ll be running Triniti's pastry program at the same time. I look forward to it all.
LL: What has been your favorite pastry dish you've featured thus far?
SM: Our fall menu just rolled out a few weeks ago and it has one of my favorite dishes I have made thus far. It’s called Inaya Fondant. Basically, I did my own take on a warm chocolate cake and made it into something totally unexpected; it has foie gras powder, currant sheet, toasted brioche, fondant, candied cayenne pecans, and brioche ice cream.
LL: What are some of the treats you’ll be featuring at FM 903’s pop-up bakeries? Any reason why you specifically selected those pastries and desserts?
SM: The 903 pop-up is going to be a reflection of the actual bakery, so the selection that I have is a preview of what can be purchased at the bakery. The menu will definitely change, but as of right now I will be doing macarons, truffles, shortbreads, pies, brioche, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, and jams.
LL: Do you eventually want to do your own bakery, or is FM 903 going to be that outlet for you?
SM: Opening the bakery for FM 903 is already a great opportunity for me, and Ryan is so open to pretty much whatever it is I want to do, so I already feel like it's my own. I love this company and plan on staying with them and seeing how far we can grow. This is a big project for me at 24 years old, so I am just overwhelmingly happy.
LL: FM 903 is both a restaurant and bakery. How much of it is pastry and how much of it is a restaurant?
SM: The structure at FM 903 is actually set up as a dog trot: two structures under one roof with a breezeway through the center. The bakery operates autonomously but supports both Triniti and the eatery at FM 903 with bread and bulk pastry production. Specific plated desserts will be produced on site at each restaurant.
LL: Will Triniti and FM 903 share any overlap? Or are they completely separate?
SM: Triniti and FM 903 will share inspiration from the product at the greenhouse and utilize breads and pastries from the bakery at FM 903. So, yes, there is definitely overlap. They are very complimentary of each other
Trinti’s weekly bakery pop-ups will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Saturday at 2815 South Shepherd Dr. in Houston, Texas.