Arthur Willhelm, Pastry Chef, B2 Bistro + Bar

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th January 2017

Arthur Willhelm is the pastry chef at B2 Bistro + Bar situated in New Jersey, America.

Like most chefs Arthur began his career working as a kitchen porter. It wasn't long before he worked his way up moving into short order cooking. After experiencing several areas of the kitchen Arthur fell in love with the pastry side of the industry and the rest, as they say, is history.

He is now the pastry chef for B2 Bistro + Bar in New Jersey under the guidance of executive chef, Cesare "Chez" De Chellis. B2 Bistro + Bar takes its influence from the popular bistro-style cooking in the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries but with an innovative and creative twist.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Arthur about trying not to be too avant garde for the customers at B2 Bistro, his classic approach to pastry and eating with our eyes.

B2 Bistro + Bar
B2 Bistro + Bar

How did you get into the industry?

My cousin was a sous chef in a local kitchen, I started off as a porter but moved to short order cooking.

Have you always been a pastry chef or have you covered other areas of the kitchen?

As far as cooking is concerned, I worked in various areas of the kitchen, but pastry was something that resonated with me the most.

Can you tell us a little more about B2 Bistro +Bar

B2 Bistro is a Mediterranean/euro bistro influenced by my chef/owners upbringing and travels, being trained in French pastry, this style is my niche.

What are the biggest challenges in your role as pastry chef?

I would say that the biggest challenges would be finding the medium between fine dining and casual dining, by that I mean asking myself if something I’m putting out is too much or too avant-garde for our guests.

Where do you find inspiration for your dishes?

Inspiration comes from different places at different times. I could be laying in bed at 1am or driving my daughter to school when an idea pops up, it sounds absurd but I’m kind of a scatterbrain.

Info Bar

 Signature dishes

Cigarettes & Coffee

Carrot cake doughnuts

 Desert island desserts

This is tough because oddly, I don’t really eat sweets. But,

Classic tarte tatin

Paris Brest

Black Forrest cake

Carrot cake doughnuts

Foie crème caramel

Do you have much say on what goes on the menu?

Chocolate caramel, branded cherries, brandy fluid gel, hazelnut tuile, fleur de sel

Chocolate caramel, branded cherries,

brandy fluid gel, hazelnut tuile,

fleur de sel

My chef gives me free reign over the pastry menu, sure I get suggestions, but the final menu is my say.

Do you pay close attention to trends within pastry?

Honestly, I can’t say that I do. I read a lot and I am aware, but as with all trends they eventually die out and I like to think that my classic approach is timeless but I could be wrong.

Milk chocolate cremeux, mint meringue, micro mint, chocolate crumble, blackberry sorbet, blackberries

Milk chocolate cremeux,

mint meringue, micro mint,

chocolate crumble,

blackberry sorbet,

blackberries

What is it about pastry that you love?

I fell in love with the creative and artistic aspect of the pastry kitchen. I love the idea that the desserts that I put out are the last impression that a guest experiences, it's the finale. I’ve always written, been in bands growing up, and staying immersed in art so it just seemed so natural for me to become a pastry chef.

How would you describe your food style?

I would say that my food style is modern classic. I like presenting classic flavours in a modern way. The idea of a guest being confused but then tasting something that brings them back to their childhood is fascinating to me.

Are there any sides to pastry you really don’t like doing? Or any areas you would like to learn more about?

I absolutely adore birthday cakes. I make them for my children and it's just so great, but when I am informed by management that a party tonight would like a cake, it drives me insane. Other than that I love almost every aspect. 

You share a lot of images online, do you think the overall look of the dish is just as important as the taste?

Absolutely, I hate using clichés, but we eat with our eyes first. Plating is very important to me, we are putting ourselves on a plate for our guests.

Do you remember the first dessert you ever made?

Ironically, the first dessert that I ever made was a birthday cake for my son.

Would you advise young chefs to choose earlier to specialise or experience all aspects of the kitchen then choose?

Absolutely, it makes you a stronger and more valuable chef in the long run. Learn, grow, and choose your strength. I’ve chosen my path, but that doesn’t mean I’m done learning the savoury side.

Arthur Willhelm
Arthur Willhelm

Why do you feel Pastry is such a specialised area?

Science. A lot of what we do is based on chemical reaction, precise measurements, and a hell of a lot of patience. You can’t half ass it when you’re working on or missing out a recipe. You have to be all in.

What’s next for the future?

Just continuing to learn and grow. I live in the now, take in the present. The future is unwritten (I’m big on clichés apparently).

*A question from our sponsors Callebaut:

With special occasion dining being so popular, do you add special pastry dishes to your menu to allow your guests to celebrate, making their meal even more memorable?

Absolutely, we have a special dinner coming up where the theme is “pig”, so I’m making pigs blood gelato, and leaf lard cookies. It keeps things fun, and interesting for sure.

Are you interested in a career as a Pastry Chef? Find all the information and jobs available here

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th January 2017

Arthur Willhelm, Pastry Chef, B2 Bistro + Bar