One of the premier desserts afforded Wheeling these days isn’t a lavish dish drizzled with exotic sauces and layers of complicated ingredients. The desert isn’t marketed using its French equivalent, accompanied by an equally highfalutin description.
I mean, if you want to get really fancy, it’s a very large chocolate chip cookie with an awful lot of chocolate mixed within a very soft cookie-ness, but at the end of the day, it’s a chocolate chip cookie, and people in downtown Wheeling love them, as in, come-in-just-to-buy-a couple-cookies-to-get-them-through-the-afternoon love them. And there is one person behind that soft, delectable circle that has built such a following. Her name is Jamie Moffat.
“I love Matt and Katie. I love that Matt is close to my age and really gets it. I love the freedom he gives me to invent new desserts. The brownie recipe is Matt’s, but other than that, he’s been really supportive of me developing recipes that match the flavor profiles offered on the menu and built around the seasons. It’s nice to have a boss that leads by encouraging the people he brings on board.”
Moffat came to the kitchen on the recommendation of a former employee and has been with the kitchen since the very first months of its opening.
“It’s really fun to be a part of something from the very beginning, to help build it, to have a hand in building something that does things the right way. Everyone at the Vagabond really cares about the food. Matt makes sure we have the very best ingredients for anything we want to try, and that really makes a difference. People don’t realize that, but it does.”
“When I started here [in the summer], I was doing a lot of things with lemon and berries to match a lighter specials menu. Now that we’re into fall and winter, I’ve been working with a different profile. I didn’t want to get stuck using the same tired flavors like pumpkin. Everyone is doing that. So, for example, today, I was working on a butternut squash roll with a cream cheese filling – something different that highlights those same customer expectations but offers them a little different taste at the same time.”
Besides her work at The Vagabond Kitchen, Moffat also does custom cakes and dreams of one day owning her own bakery.
“Well, I have always cooked. From a very early age, I remember people telling me I was a good cook. That really encouraged me, you know? Then, one day, I remember I started seeing all of these shows about people making these beautiful wedding cakes and birthday cakes, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do. That’s me.’ At the time, I was thinking about going back to school, and it was either going to be art school or culinary school. Discovering custom baking let me do both of those things together, and so far, I’m really happy.”
Moffat said that love of art and baking might very well be something residents of Wheeling might be seeing more of, and in fact, participating in come the near future.
“Katie and I have been talking about possibly offering fondant sculpting workshops in the future. I know from experience that there is no one teaching that stuff around here – even in Pittsburgh to a large degree as far as I can tell. I went to school to learn to bake and to be a pâtisserie, but I couldn’t find anyone to teach me how to actually work with fondant. I used what I knew about art and baking to move forward in that aspect of my work.”
For that and other news coming out of the kitchen in regards to all things baked goodies, keep an eye on the website as well as the Vagabond Kitchen’s facebook page.
And don’t forget your chocolate chip cookie on the way out.