Maggie Huff’s desserts offer FT33 guests a taste of something subtly sweet, reflecting a hyper-seasonality that has been the benchmark of Chef Matt McCallister’s critically acclaimed restaurant in the Dallas Design District. She considers herself fortunate to be able to get her hands on superior products such as local honey from Texas Honey Bee Guild, Caprino Royale fresh goat cheese, and produce from the same farmers sourced by the savory side of the restaurant. To that point, she isn’t afraid to employ savory elements—herbs, spices, and vegetables, as well as forms of acid, fat, and salt—to enhance the sweet flavors on the plate. The reason, Huff explains, always comes down to one word: balance. “I believe in there being a balanced finish to the meal,” says the pastry chef, who joined the team in March 2014. “Dessert shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a continuation of what you’ve had prior so that there is some cohesiveness to the entire dining experience. That’s important, and to accomplish that, the flavors all should be balanced. Nothing overly sweet or overly done.”
For instance, Huff often finds opportunities to incorporate cheese in desserts and usually offers a cleverly disguised cheese plate—something with savory cheese like goat, blue, or sharp cheddar, a playful element of in-season fruit, and a creative nutty component. Reflecting the seasons of Texas means her menus change regularly, with no dish lasting more than a few weeks. “Some desserts are short-lived, and some last a little longer,” she says. “Luckily, chocolate doesn’t have a season.”
Prior to FT33, Huff had the media swooning over her sophisticated desserts at Pyramid at the Fairmont Dallas. She originally met and worked with McCallister in the highly lauded kitchen of Stephan Pyles Restaurant. The Dallas native also had a stint in New York City, first attaining her culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute, then working the back of the house in several restaurants, doing both savory and pastry. Her love of food goes back even further: Huff has been baking since she was a kid, cultivating a curiosity in the kitchen while learning from her mother the importance of measuring ingredients.
Outside of work, Huff spends a lot of time in her home kitchen, and tending to the meat smoker, to entertain family and friends. The avid reader is also a self-professed New York Times crossword junkie.