CHRYSTA POULOS: PASTRY CHEF – KING + DUKE
The energetic and friendly Chrysta Poulos has been honing her pastry skills for 10 years in Atlanta. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta’s culinary program, she has worked in some of the city’s top pastry kitchens. Before joining the team of the newly minted King + Duke, Poulos earned her pedigreed chops at luminary restaurants including Woodfire Grill, 4th & Swift, Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch and Holeman & Finch Bread Company. Along the way, she’s amassed accolades and awards, including being named a Rising Stars Pastry Chef, and her signature sticky toffee pudding as the “People’s Choice.”
The energetic and friendly Chrysta Poulos has been honing her pastry skills for 10 years in Atlanta. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta’s culinary program, she has worked in some of the city’s top pastry kitchens. Before joining the team of the newly minted King + Duke, she earned her pedigreed chops at luminary restaurants including Woodfire Grill, 4th & Swift, Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch and Holeman & Finch Bread Company.
Poulos, who rocks a vibrant mane of shocking pink, is lauded for striking the delicate balance of taste, textures and temperatures to create an impressionable dessert experience. “Dessert is the last impression a restaurant can make on a diner,” she says. “I want to provide a great memory for people—and I want them to come back for more.” Farm fresh fruits and produce provide constant inspiration for her seasonal menus.
Poulos has an enthusiastic but controlled approach to pastries. Now that she’s at the helm of King + Duke’s pastry kitchen, which employs a Colonial American approach to cooking—all on an open fire—she’s seamlessly translating this style to her desserts. “I use the hearth and the smoker with my desserts,” she says. “For example, I smoke the cherries that top our Black Forest chocolate cake,” which is paired with house-made black pepper ice cream. She utilizes Americana traditions in most of her dishes, including roasting the strawberries, which crown the vanilla cheesecake.
Poulos’ career is a varied one. Before her 10-year reign in Atlanta as one of the top pastry chefs, the Atlanta native served in the U.S. Air Force, working on B1B bombers. After retiring from the military, Poulos started picking up shifts as a server and felt drawn to the kitchen. Poulos found she enjoyed the lifestyle, and enrolled at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
Poulos was named Atlanta Rising Star Pastry Chef in 2012 during her tenure at Woodfire Grill, but perhaps what she’s best known for is her signature sticky toffee pudding, which won Adoption Discovery’s “People’s Choice” Award in 2011. She has carried that beloved recipe from 4th & Swift to Woodfire and now is introducing it to King + Duke’s guests as Dates + Ale. But here she takes a twist, cultivating something new: The crème anglaise is crafted from Sweetwater Lowrider IPA. “I wanted to give a nod to our local brewery, and it really cuts the sweetness with a warm finish.”
A sugar aficionado, Poulos is perhaps most passionate about cacao. “I love working with chocolate,” she raves. “It has so many flavor profiles with wine.” She says she plans to work with King + Duke’s bartender to create a series of canapés to be offered with dessert wines, again looking to the sweet, happy ending for her diners.
When she’s not preparing seasonal product-driven delicacies, the pink-haired Poulos spends time traveling and taking abstract photographs of her discoveries along the way. She buzzes with fun energy and creative spark in all that she invests her time.