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Southern Litvin

This rising culinary star is baking her way to the top.

Andrea Litvin

When diners first taste that ricotta cheesecake at The Spence, their eyes widen.

“For one thing, it’s lighter than the usual dense cheesecake because it’s aerated in the oven,” says its creator, Andrea Litvin, who the Tasting Table named as one of the nation’s seven best pastry chefs of 2013 and who was nominated for Food & Wine’s 2013 The People’s Best New Pastry Chef. The dessert usually incorporates blueberries, chocolate graham crumble, meringue and—surprise!—tarragon.

It is her signature, counterintuitive-seeming move—sneaking in savory, or even downright startling, ingredients that somehow sweeten the pot. She mortars pineapple upside-down cake with thick foie gras caramel, tempers chocolate mousse with nutty tahini and spikes ice cream with violet extract. “I eat with my eyes and nose, too, so I want a dessert with visual appeal and high-impact flavor,” she says.

Born in Athens, the 30-year-old Litvin grew up gardening and making pizzelles before attending Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, where she became a protegee of Richard Blais at Home and Flip Burger Boutique. She decamped briefly to New York for Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, but she missed the South and came home. Blais installed her at The Spence last year.

“I take bits and pieces from everyone I’ve learned from,” she explains. But for a kid who loved weird kitchen gadgets, growing her own food and experimenting with her grandma in the kitchen, she grew up to make it all her own.

Litvin’s Hots
The Great Gatsby, home gardens, Eastern Mediterranean food, Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs, eating in season

Litvin’s Nots
Wasting food, bacon in desserts, bacon in everything, cupcakes, Florida Gators, crazy-colored long fingernails