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The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey
Lauren Lynch
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Cast & Plow’s Pastry Chef Vanessa Johnson Adds Colorful Touches to Each of Her Creations
Shining the Spotlight on Edible Art

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – November 19th, 2015 – Since its opening early last year, the AAA Five Diamond Hotel’s restaurant, Cast & Plow, has been attracting locals and guests with its marina views, sharable dishes and its mission to support local vendors. Now, in part to its talented pastry chef, desserts are becoming the highlight on the menu with its new organic addition: edible flowers.

Johnson hand-selects each flower to accent her decadent treats such as the warm sugar cake topped with salted caramel ice cream, the dark chocolate ganache featuring chocolate sponge and a quenelle of cherry sorbet, or as the finishing touch to a plate of Spanish-style churros.

Johnson’s love for flowers began at a young age when her mother use to fill her house with fresh cut bouquets. Later, when she was working at Le Cirque inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas, she spotted marigolds being sprinkled over ice cream.

“I love when people open their minds,” she says when speaking about the all-natural ingredient, adding: “I like it when you can eat everything on your plate.”

Johnson uses a variety of flowers such as begonias, cilantro blossoms, fennel, bachelor buttons, corvette roses, fuchsia and micro daisies. The key, she explains, is to not overpower the dessert so she takes the time to remove large petals and keep smaller ones instead.

Another word of advice: aside from confirming the flowers being used are really edible, also bear in mind the potential use of pesticides. Unless they are clearly labeled, Johnson recommends getting them from farmers markets instead.

Edible flowers are proving to have numerous uses aside from just the aesthetic. Johnson recalls seeing them sugared or dehydrated to be made into a powder that can be used in meringues and ice creams and plans for more imaginative desserts to make their appearance on the Cast & Plow menu soon.

About Vanessa Johnson:
Previously the hotel’s Assistant Pastry Chef from 2007 to 2010, Johnson returned to The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey in February 2015 to join the Cast & Plow kitchen. Johnson has worked in many kitchens across the country including: The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, Le Cirque at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and most recently the Capella Pedregal Hotel & Spa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.