The dish: The molecular chef next door
At 346 Patisserie, pastry chef Arthur Haynes aims to fuse scientific sweets with the neighborhood bakery
This is not the convenient story of a pastry chef whose calling came at birth. Las Vegas native Arthur Haynes never pictured himself wielding a whisk until he was in his early twenties and working a retail gig at a Joann’s fabric store in Nashville, Tennessee. Coworkers extended a fortuitous invitation to a Thanksgiving potluck, but securing a seat required an edible contribution.
Uh-oh. Haynes’ only prior kitchen experience was a busboy gig during his freshman year of high school. With the help of Google and Martha Stewart, he tackled a sweet potato pie recipe — and for a first-time effort, the results were a surprising hit.
“I would call it my a-ha moment,” says Haynes. “However,” he quips, “I think of this career as more of an arranged marriage than a story of love at first sight.”
No matter, as it’s a relationship that’s still going strong. After graduating from New York City’s French Culinary Institute and working around the country, from hip Brooklyn establishments (Seersucker, Nightingale 9) to the Bellagio, Haynes is bringing a six-year dream to life at 346 Patisserie in Henderson.
Haynes, 31, is kind but quiet, speaking with a slight stammer. He prefers to let his creations speak for him. “The reason I went into this is because I have to work with my hands,” he says. “I like being the kitchen workhorse. There’s also science and a sense of order behind pastry that you don’t get from savory cooking.”
The mad, quiet scientist
At 346 (named after the freezing point of liquid nitrogen), he’ll showcase classic pastries rooted in French technique, honed during stints at New York’s Daniel and Bouchon Bakery. But what he hopes will set him apart from local competitors are his avant-garde touches in both form and flavor. Crediting one of his favorite chefs — Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago — as a major influence, he’ll be playing with liquid nitrogen to create spheres and powders for frozen dessert toppings.
It wasn’t easy mastering the art of molecular gastronomy. Haynes underwent a period of trial and error through self-taught experiments.
“The first recipe I tried was a Coca-Cola caviar,” he says. “I bought sodium alginate online and made it in my home kitchen. It didn’t work out too well, but I guess there’s no better to way to learn something than to get it completely wrong.”
Despite his laconic nature, there are occasional glimpses of the mad scientist within. For example, a question about his ice cream recipes provokes a carefully considered reply.
“I think the one aspect of our shop that sets us apart is how we formulate our recipes,” says Haynes. “We play off the specific ingredient or flavor that we’re creating, and because of that we don’t use a base mix. Certain ingredients already bring enough, say, fat or sugar to the recipe, so we have to reformulate the rest of the recipe to fit that specific ingredient to allow the flavor to really shine. In the end, ice cream is a balancing act, and in order to get a perfectly textured ice cream with an ideal melting point, that balance has to be precise.”
When asked why he chose Henderson for his debut project, Haynes points to his 8-month-old daughter Violet. After enduring the hectic pace and cramped quarters of New York City living, he and his partner of 12 years, Amber Pappageorge (also a Las Vegas native), were ready to come home.
Amber, a hospitality vet who will oversee the front of the house, is confident in Haynes’ ability to please local palates. “He is so focused on his work and he has a love of learning that really comes through in what he does,” she says. “We wanted to bring that level of talent to a neighborhood, family-friendly place.”
346 Patisserie is a mom-and-pop in the truest sense of the word. Haynes is opening without a support team, executing all production by himself. It’s a daunting task, but one by which he barely seems fazed.
“I don’t mind working 12 to 15 hours a day,” he says. “But if I’m going to do it at this point in my career, I at least want to do it for myself.”
346 Patisserie 90 S. Stephanie St. #150, Henderson, NV 89012, 346patisserie.com