A San Francisco Sugar Crawl with Top Chef Just Dessert’s Tim Nugent

Tim Nugent

SF pastry chef Tim Nugent may have been asked to pack his knives stack his measuring cups and leave Top Chef: Just Desserts last week, but it was just in time for him to take ES on a tour of all his favorite local desserts. From the classics to the craziest, here are Tim Nugent’s favorite San Francisco treats.

TCHO Pot de Creme at Absinthe


“This is done the right way, the French way,” says Tim — just eggs, sugar, and super-rich chocolate from SF-based TCHO. “I get all that other stuff out of the way and just go right to the chocolate.” (Photo: Alex)

Crazy donuts, crazier ice cream and the one dish that strikes fear in the heart of all Top Chef-testants. Keep reading for more of Tim’s favs…

Buttermilk Bay Laurel Leaf Panna Cotta at Delfina

panna cotta

Ah, the panna cotta. Countless Top Chef-testants have thought they would wow the judges with one of these babies, but then bit the dush when it didn’t set properly or otherwise failed. To see how it’s supposed to be done, check out Delfina, where the always perfect panna cotta is paired with seasonal fruits like tangerines or elephant heart plums. (Photo: SanFran Annie)

Caneles at La Boulange


“These are really, really hard to do correctly,” says Tim, “and La Boulange does them exquisitely.” Your humble ES tasting team visited three separate branches of this burgeoning SF mini-chain before locating one of these honey-and-egg based pastries. On the third try, we finally found one last canele that wasn’t spoken for and gobbled it up in about 12 seconds. (Photo: Alex)

Maple Glazed Bacon-Apple Donut at Dynamo Donut and Coffee

maple bacon donut

Another popular SF dessert that sells out nearly every day. “The chef here is my best friend, so I helped her taste these for weeks before she opened,” says Tim. He’s still not sick of them, and clearly, neither are we. (Photo: xmatt)

Insane Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe


“It’s impossible to pick a favorite flavor here,” says Tim. And with flavors like Thai chili lime, secret breakfast (bourbon and corn flakes) and Jesus juice (red wine and cola), it’s also pretty impossible to stop asking for samples. (Photo: {Guerrila Future | Jason Tester)

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! at Scala’s Bistro


Finally, no San Francisco dessert crawl would be complete without a stop at Tim’s own kitchen in Scala’s Bistro, where he whips up such divine creations as Chocolate! Chocolate Chocolate! — milk chocolate mousse on a chocolate pecan crust, topped with chocolate gelato and chocolate sauce. Let’s see Johnny Iuzzini hate on that!

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