Rodney Cerdan is a very dangerous man.
If left to his own devices, he will ply you with chocolate honey mousse cake, peanut butter brownie bars with fluffs of toasted marshmallow, chewy almond cookies and bags of homemade sticky caramels to no surrender.
He can’t help himself. As executive pastry chef of the Village Pub in Woodside, Cerdan, 33, has been baking since he was 7, when he’d commandeer his Mom’s toaster oven before taking on the full-size one.
After stints at Roy’s Restaurant in San Francisco, Delessio’s Market in Bakery in San Francisco, and Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop in San Francisco, Cerdan took over the head pastry job at the Village Pub in October 2010.
Recently, I had a chance to try a sampling of his newest desserts (about $10 each) on the house that reference homey favorites, but have been reborn with contemporary flair. They included a fluffy, airy chocolate honey mousse cake with spicy ginger ice cream; and a Meyer lemon pudding cake with an ethereal texture made all the more luxurious with dollops of lush white chocolate.
Cerdan, who is of Spanish-Basque and El Salvadoran heritages, joined me at the table to chat about his failed attempt at an acting career, what it was like to grow up with a mom who worked at See’s Candies, and what his all-time favorite dessert is.
Q: Your Mom wrapped candies at See’s. That must be every kid’s fantasy, right?
A: She used to bring home 10-pound boxes. The fruit-filled chocolates were always my favorite. I used to take a knife to the bottom of each candy until I found the ones that I was looking for.
I got pretty good at identifying them just by sight. But it’s been awhile. I’m not sure I could do it now. I’d have to brush up on it.
Q: When you were 7 years old, you wanted an Easy-Bake oven?
A: Yes, but I couldn’t have one. But I found that the toaster oven was better. There was none of that pushing a tiny pan under a light bulb.
I would grab a box of Bisquick and make all the recipes. Then, I’d make my own coffee cakes and pigs in a blanket. I made my own pasta at 9.
I’d watch all the PBS cooking shows, especially Julia Child and ‘Yan Can Cook.’
Q: So was this how your love for baking started?
A: My Mom would come home smelling of chocolate and vanilla. That pretty much did it. (laughs)