Meet some of our food and beverage partners for this year's Simply diVine, as they answer four of our burning questions. We look 'fourward' to seeing you on Saturday, March 24, at Hollywood Forever. Don’t miss out!
Purchase your tickets today at simplydivinela.org.
At a time when people were eating canned vegetables and processed foods, Shannon’s family made everything from scratch. His grandparents’ gardens spawned an obsession for ripe, perfect produce; and this passion is apparent in Shannon’s fruit-focused dessert menu as pastry chef of Craft Los Angeles.
Shannon (pictured above) joined the Craft family in 2006, when he became the pastry chef at Craft Dallas. In 2009, he moved west with his husband to become pastry chef of Craft Los Angeles. His creations have garnered praise from critics and guests alike for his unfussy, natural flavor combinations.
Vanguard Now: What makes a piece of pastry exemplary and unforgettable?
Shannon Swindle: Perfectly ripe, in-season fruit makes a pastry exemplary and unforgettable to me. Great butter, flavorful flours, a minimum amount of sugar (and always a bit of sea salt) are the foundation. I can’t stand overly sweet pastries and desserts. And nothing is better to me than buttery, well-salted dough with bubbling fruit baked with it!
VN: What do you remember best about your family, especially when it came to cooking and baking?
SS: My early food memories are from my grandparent’s garden in east Texas growing up. Simple cooking with those amazing, just-picked ingredients was a real treat in the ‘70s. No one in my family was really a baker except for my Dad’s mom—she always had pies, cakes and cookies around…in retrospect they were all way too sweet, but that was home baking in Texas!
VN: Craft Los Angeles has been a repeat food partner of Simply diVine. To someone who’s contemplating whether to attend Simply diVine, what would you say about the event to convince them to go?
SS: Simply Divine is a hoot…all the cute boys! No—seriously—it’s a great event with awesome food and drinks, and a really important fundraiser for the community. There is always a less stuffy atmosphere at this event, and it’s a blast!
VN: As a member of the LGBT community, what advice do you give to other LGBT people who want to pursue culinary arts?
SS: Advice to others wanting to pursue the craft of cooking….start cooking! Cook often, eat out a lot, and try to get into a restaurant kitchen as early as you can—I am not a fan of culinary schools. I don’t really have any different advice for someone in the LGBTQ community as I would someone who isn’t. Thankfully, our industry is changing and becoming more inclusive of everyone—what was once a (straight) boys’ club is now much more open. The first kitchen job I had in Austin was volunteering in the kitchen during the day with the female sous chef so I “wouldn’t make the boys at night uncomfortable” since I was out as gay. I can’t imagine that happening these days.