Camille Cogswell is the pastry chef at Zahav, Philadelphia’s renowned modern Israeli restaurant from James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner Michael Solomonov. An Asheville, North Carolina, native, Cogswell began her pastry career with an internship at a local bakery followed by stints at Chapel Hill North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon, before attending The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
As part of earning her degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, she completed a coveted internship in the pastry kitchen of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Upon graduating from The CIA, Cogswell moved to New York City where she honed her skills in chef Daniel Humm's Michelin-starred NoMad. In December 2015, Cogswell relocated to Philadelphia to lead the pastry kitchen at Zahav, and in 2018 she was named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.
Despite having been away from the South for a number of years, Cogswell says there is still nothing more comforting to her than baking a pie.
What was the last thing you ate?
This afternoon I tasted seven different variations of rugelach. We're working on perfecting our recipe, adjusting lots of variables in our dough and in the way that it's baked.
It's your day off. What do you order for breakfast and where? (Outside of your own restaurants.)
My favorite breakfast order wherever I am is the classic American diner breakfast platter: I get eggs over medium, bacon or sausage, rye toast and home fries. And my favorite breakfast spot is The Dutch in South Philly. I often order that for myself, but my fiancé, Drew, and I will also get a sweet Dutch baby to share. The Dutch has perfected these heavenly, eggy, custardy skillet pancakes that are dusted with powdered sugar, sprinkled with lemon zest and juice and drizzled with maple syrup.
Controversial question: Do you believe in brunch?
Ha! While I don't have a burning hatred for it like a lot of chefs do, I also don't necessarily jump at the chance to go out for brunch. On a weekend morning, I just want normal breakfast at a place that isn't swamped with people.
What is your 2:00 a.m. food order or favorite spot?
Philly's Chinatown is always a go-to for late night food. Tai Lake is great spot. Some of my favorite dishes are the sautéed eel in spicy XO sauce, clams with minced pork, stuffed hot pepper with minced shrimp and the salt-baked baby fish.
What is your local coffee shop and what do you order?
Ox Coffee is a great little coffee shop near Zahav and they roast their own beans. I always go for a classic latte—whole milk, no extra flavors.
Where do you go when you travel to your favorite city?
One of my favorite cities to visit is Montreal. My fiancé and I recently went on a quick 48-hour trip, so unfortunately I didn't get to check out as many restaurants as I would have liked, but we have a friend at the Joe Beef company so we got to eat at almost all of their restaurants during our time there. My favorite place was their newest restaurant, Mon Lapin. We had an incredible red endive salad with cold shaved foie gras.
What is the "laziest" meal you put together for yourself this past week?
After work one day when I didn't feel like making anything for dinner, I snacked on a bunch of random things I had around: some pretzel chips with carrot hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter, BBQ Pringles and Tate's chocolate chip cookies.
What is your favorite snack food and why?
Pringles. Either Original or BBQ flavored. I can eat a whole tube in one sitting. I love the distinct flavor and crumbly, crispy texture of those pressed potato flakes.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
One thing I love to eat but don't let myself buy very often are those Tastykake or Entenmann's mini chocolate-coated donuts sold in the roll-top bag in the supermarket. While I don't have a huge sweet tooth on a daily basis, I could put down a whole bag of those in one sitting if I wanted to.
Photo courtesy of Zahav.