Taking The Cake

It’s not every FM interviewee who arrives with a bittersweet chocolate cake in tow. The cake in question has chocolate ganache frosting flavored with Cointreau and cognac. Thomas C. Gilmore ’06 has just made himself a very popular guy. As onlookers eagerly devour his creation, Gilmore explains his love of all things sweet. “I’ve always been slightly interested in baking and cooking,” the chef begins modestly. It wasn’t until last year, however, that Gilmore began to seriously pursue his hobby. A high school squash champion, he deferred his first year at Harvard in order to compete in New Zealand. Unfortunately for him—but fortunately for tastebuds everywhere—Gilmore sustained an ankle injury and spent two months recovering from reconstructive surgery.

During his time off, he began reading recipes in The New York Times Magazine and soon developed a repertoire of delicious treats, one he continues to expand. “I might experiment with a tartlet one day and the next day try a chocolate mousse,” Gilmore says. Having worked as a line cook last summer in Maine, Gilmore found that he preferred baking to cooking. Baking’s “attention to absolute detail” better suits his “picky” personality.

In the summertime, Gilmore loves to bake pies, especially when the fruit is fresh. He also has an affinity for ethnic foods. He will often add cumin and coriander to a pastry to “spice it up.”

The Cambridge native receives a mixed reaction to his hobby. “People think it’s sort of funny,” he says. Acknowledging that baking is a traditionally female hobby, Gilmore adds that people’s reactions don’t really bother him that much. “My friends are really supportive,” he says.

Although he plans to study History of Art and Architecture, Gilmore hopes to work this summer as a pastry chef at Finale. Judging from the crumbly, spicy yet sweet texture of his creation (baked in his home kitchen), FM predicts success for this budding Julia Child. But for the less skilled among us, there’s still hope—Gilmore admits that in a pinch, he has been known to rely on a Duncan Hines mix.