Spending the day crafting beautiful macarons, cakes, truffles, cheesecakes, and cookies sounds like a dream come true, right? For Casey Renee, her passion for sweets and her culinary talent allowed her to make that dream a reality. Casey serves as the Head Pastry Chef at Whitfield, overseeing all the restaurant’s dessert offerings.
Pittsburgh to New York City and Back Again
A Pittsburgh native, Casey was raised in the South Hills neighborhood. She worked in restaurants all growing up, but originally pursued a different professional path after earning a degree in advertising and radio broadcasting from Point Park University. After working in advertising for three years, she followed her love of cooking to New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute. She graduated from the program in 2011.
While living in New York, Casey dove headfirst into the world of professional cooking. She joined the team at the lauded Momofuku Noodle Bar. It was here where she was first introduced to the pastry side of the kitchen.
Casey continued her culinary education with an apprenticeship at The Meat Hook, a Brooklyn butcher shop. This butcher shop is co-owned by Pittsburgh native, Brent Young. Here, the two fellow Pittsburghers formed a fast friendship. Brent would eventually partner with Ace Hotel to help open Whitfield in December of 2015.
Finding Her Pastry Passion
Following Momofuku Noodle Bar, Casey moved to the Michelin two-starred Momofuku Ko, where she became more involved in pastry. Deciding her passion really lay in sweets, not savory, Casey became a member of the pastry team at the one-star Michelin restaurant, Del Posto, working under the tutelage of acclaimed Executive Pastry Chef, Brooks Headley. Casey earned the title of Pastry Sous Chef before returning to her hometown to open Whitfield.
In 2015, Casey was selected for Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Outstanding in the Field” culinary honor. She is a 2017 and 2018 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.”
High tea, anyone?
Casey and Thommy Conroy, a Pittsburgh florist and event organizer, hosted two high tea parties last year at Whitfield. Featuring savory and sweet bites, Casey developed a five-course menu and Thommy decorated with gorgeous floral arrangements. One event was in October, and the other was a swanky New Year’s Eve event.
Casey and Thommy are planning on hosting another high tea soon. Watch for the news because the events sell out quickly! It’s no surprise, though. High tea with beautiful flowers and live music is the stuff of childhood dreams.
Follow Casey’s journey as Head Pastry Chef at Whitfield and get inspired by some truly gorgeous desserts by following her here.