Sudden lack of pastry chef Joshua Ulmer reverberates by way of L.A.’s eating scene and past

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It was one in every of his signature dishes: a chewy, pastel hibiscus meringue that’s halved and shattered to disclose a chantilly beneath, all dusted with dehydrated hibiscus imported from Oaxaca. This dessert ceaselessly steals the present for diners on the downtown Mexican restaurant Damian, and it was the creation of Joshua Ulmer.

Ulmer, a rising-star pastry chef who wove Latin-heritage substances with French approach for Enrique Olvera’s restaurant group, died March 29 on the age of 25. His sudden passing instantly reverberated among the many restaurant group in Los Angeles and past, with many high-profile voices lamenting the loss on social media. The reason for dying was not disclosed.

“A visitor left him a notice one night time throughout service that stated, ‘I heard Nipsey [Hussle] stated that the best human act is to encourage. The desserts have been inspirational,’” Ulmer’s household stated. “To know that he not solely impressed our household, but additionally those who labored with him and ate with him, makes our household’s hearts so full.”

Ulmer was born July 19, 1997, on Lengthy Island, New York, and his fascination with cooking started shortly thereafter. The long run chef would often arrive residence to look at the Meals Community after his days spent at elementary college. As soon as his dad and mom, John and Christine Ulmer, bought his first cookbook he started getting ready meals for the household — notably nachos for Cinco de Mayo — impressed by his grandmothers and the cooks he diligently watched onscreen, based on his sister, Victoria Ulmer.

His love of dessert started early too. “Nothing might make him happier than bread, butter and, most significantly, ice cream,” Ulmer’s household stated in a joint assertion. “There was not a scorching summer season day that glided by that you just couldn’t hear Joshua operating for the ice cream truck. There was not a extra good job on the planet than a pastry chef for somebody so candy.”

After graduating from Johnson & Wales College, the place he studied culinary arts, Ulmer joined the pastry staff of Cosme, a Michelin-starred New York Metropolis restaurant underneath Olvera’s Casamata hospitality group. In 2020 he made his approach to Casamata’s Los Angeles eating places, Damian and Ditroit, the place he helped to open each.

The pastry lead dropped at the eating places sweets that have been vibrant in taste and hue: dipping pink peppercorn paletas in a sort of raspberry onerous shell; baking pink-tinted hibiscus conchas; forming recent churros into the bottom for chocolate-drizzled sundaes; and creating his fan-favorite signature, the hibiscus meringue at Damian.

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Joshua Ulmer, seen rolling out dough, joined Enrique Olvera’s restaurant empire upon graduating culinary college, then helped to open each of Olvera’s Los Angeles eating places in 2020.

(Araceli Paz / Casamata)

In response to colleagues, Ulmer was a cherished pal each out and in of the kitchen.

“At first the times have been very lengthy, 14- to 16-hour days, however I knew I might get by way of as a result of we have been all the time there for one another,” stated Carlos Garcia, a sous chef at Damian who additionally labored with Ulmer at Cosme. “Regardless of him being the pastry chef of Damian, he would all the time come and provide a hand.”

Ulmer’s eager consideration to element and perfection at his dessert station didn’t preclude him from serving to others; colleagues say he would cease no matter he was doing — even when plating 10 meringues at a time — to assist cooks in want at different stations within the kitchen. He would often make time to show others, colleagues stated. His pursuit of taste and perfection was infectious, as was his willpower. As soon as, Garcia remembers, he and Ulmer spent greater than 28 straight hours baking bread and brownies for a catered occasion; his pal and years-long co-worker didn’t complain as soon as.

“The bond that we created is eternal,” Garcia stated. “Not solely did we grow to be mates however brothers. We might get up collectively, spend the day, construct a staff collectively, we would go away collectively and have drinks on the finish of each night time for months.”

Ulmer was a fan of Lengthy Island iced teas and possessed stunning proficiency at not solely pastry however bowling; he usually may very well be discovered at Clark Avenue Diner for breakfast or consuming dinner at Dan Tana’s, whose red-sauce Italian menu reminded him of his Lengthy Island upbringing. Although Ulmer was “a real metropolis boy,” family and friends each recall Ulmer’s gravitation towards nature and the good outdoor.

“I keep in mind him being so uncomfortable at first, then he settled in after we began cooking,” stated Alex Kim-Salas, Damian’s assistant common supervisor and an Ulmer pal. “He wished to be like Francis Mallmann, grilling with masterfully crafted rigs and elaborate recipes. I saved inviting him out as a result of he would make epic meals and I really felt that he was at peace being out in the course of nowhere, sitting round a fireplace and pondering life.”

After Olvera’s eating places shared the information of Ulmer’s dying, feedback poured in on social media from family members, acquaintances and up to date and previous colleagues.

“Your heat soul and cheerful power will without end reside in our kitchens,” Olvera stated on his private Instagram account.

“At work he was an absolute titan — striving for, and infrequently attaining, perfection with fashion and style,” Salas instructed The Instances. “However exterior of labor Josh was easy, humorous, easygoing and all the way down to do something. He was a particular a part of my life, and to everybody round him, and he’ll without end have a seat at our household desk.”

Ulmer is survived by his dad and mom, John and Christine; his sister, Victoria; his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmothers; and his mates and colleagues of Casamata.

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