FR Test Kitchen Interview: Pichet Ong

Today we're live from the Food Republic Test Kitchen at the W Austin as part of Austin Food & Wine Festival. Keep checking back for more interviews and photos.

Tell us about last night's Dr. Pepper dessert.

Janina O'Leary: This is just a playful spin on the cream soda. It's got a little bit of everything. We've got a black pepper genoise and we've made a Dr. Pepper reduction to go with it. There's a market berry sorbet and vanilla bean ice cream that we swirl together so it's like a beautiful marble and then we garnish that with our market berries.

Do you cook with Dr. Pepper a lot?

JO: Believe it or not we do. It's very Texas. Anything that has something like that is always the most popular dish.

Pichet Ong: I think that people really like it. Of the three, it's the more dessert like. It's also what I always like in desserts because it has fruit. And not just any fruit — seasonal fruit.

So last night's menu was collaborative?

JO: It was, we sort of went back and forth with the menu. Pichet is here for a couple of days so we played around in the kitchen and this is what we ended up with.

It went pretty late...

JO: It did. We had a lot of people come after the Salt Lick event and chefs after their shifts ended like Philip Speer, Sam Mason and Naomi Pomeroy. We were back in at 9 am. There's no sleep during Food & Wine.

What's it like cooking at the W?

PO: It is truly farm to table. The W is great because we have a forager and an herb garden on top.

J: We can literally grab ingredients from the garden right before service.