Hannah Kiddoo 2015-06-27 12:26:17
The Sweet Life Austin attorney Meredith Takahashi whips up culinary delights. As a girl, Meredith Takahashi spent hours in the kitchen working alongside her nana to master recipes. She continued to bake through high school, college, and law school, finding peace in the process and feeding friends along the way. In 2009, Takahashi, then living in the Big Apple, decided that she wanted to do more with her passion so she enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education. By day, Takahashi served as an attorney for the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society; at night, she shadowed chefs at popular spots including Amy’s Bread, Sweet Melissa’s, Grandaisy Bakery, Pâtisserie Florentine, and Financier. Since relocating to Austin in 2011, Takahashi has built up her family and probate firm, Takahashi Law Office, as well as a baking business, Mère Made Sweets, where she completes custom orders for treats like flaky shortbread cookies, macaroons stuffed with ganache filling, and tarts topped with fresh fruits. She also volunteers with the Fresh Chefs Society, an organization that mentors youth transitioning from foster care while teaching them independent living and culinary skills. Tell me about your memories of baking with family. Growing up, when I used to bake with my nana, we would make the same three or four recipes. Then as a teenager, I focused on making simple cookies. I enjoy exploring and trying new recipes and versions of recipes, but baking with Nana taught me the importance of having a few recipes that you know well, can come back to, and can execute no matter what. My family loves to eat; I learned at a young age how food is a language itself. My dad is a really good cook; I learned from him that I, too, like feeding people. What do you enjoy most about working in the kitchen? I enjoy the rhythm of working through each process. Even though I’m focusing on the method, I can often clear my head while I’m baking, which later allows me to think through other stressful work or issues on my mind. What is the Mère Made Sweets customer base? It varies greatly. I have catered everything from small events to weddings and supplied baked goods for local cafes. What is your most popular order? A croquembouche, which is a French wedding cake that is a cloister of profiteroles filled with a ganache or pastry cream assembled together in a tower with a caramel glaze. What goals do you have for the business? I would love to explore a dessert bar and/or cafe down the road for Mère Made Sweets. You have lived around the world, are an avid traveler, and have volunteered abroad. Have those experiences influenced your baking? Yes, definitely. I took a cooking class in Thailand and, more recently, one in Vietnam. Learning the process of cooking and baking in other cultures informs new methods and approaches to preparing food in more interesting ways. Understanding the nuances of culture that influence French pastry to Viennese cake to Italian biscotti can improve just about any dessert. What differences do you see in the Texas culinary scene that make it unique? The Austin scene is focused on fresh, locally sourced food. That has influenced my baking and often determines what I make or which direction I take a recipe. The food truck scene has also allowed much entrepreneurial creativity, which is great to explore, experience, and learn from. Explain your participation in the Fresh Chefs Society. I am currently serving as president of our board of directors. I work on various aspects of fundraising, and I serve as a guest chef. When I worked at the Legal Aid Society in New York, I represented children and teens in family court. During the time I was in culinary school, I would often share recipes and desserts made during my classes with my clients. Fresh Chefs allows me to continue those conversations. Are there any similarities in being a pastry chef and practicing law? Both require paying close attention to detail and placing importance on finding creative solutions.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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