Just when one might imagine we’ve reached peak pandemic pastry boxes, the treats keep coming. Fine dining pastry chef Nick Muncy, who used to tweezer micro mint for Michelin-starred restaurants like COI and Michael Mina, has a new project. It’s called Drool, as the SF Chronicle noted. There are oversized Nutter Butters. And slightly eccentric packaging. Online orders officially go live on Tuesday, February 23, and he’s only making 50 boxes per weekend, so get those kumquat cakes while they’re hot.
Muncy was the pastry chef for more than five years at COI, which held two Michelin stars during that time. He departed in 2017 to found Toothache, an indie zine that runs stories by and for chefs. He returned to the kitchen at Michael Mina at the beginning of 2019, and was furloughed from the Mina group when coronavirus shut down the city in March 2020.
He wound up driving across the country with his brother while putting out the next issue of his magazine, but now he’s back in the Bay, and back in the kitchen, and even though Mina corporate wanted him back, “I was already deep in Drool … ” says Muncy. “Making Toothache, I had already gotten a little taste of doing things for myself, and starting my own business, and the stress, but also the freedom that comes with that. And if I’m going to go to a restaurant, and not do fine-dining tasting menus, and the type of pastries I like to do, and I’m going to be putting food in a box — I should just do it for myself and start something.”
The box includes half a dozen different pastries and confections for $45. There are fine-dining touches, as well as fun eccentricities. Items and flavors will keep changing, but this first box includes an almond-orange cake, pumped with marzipan and decked with candied kumquats. The lemon meringue tart is flipped upside down, filling the crisp shell with airy meringue, and floating a pool of curd on top. Homemade Nutter Butters riff on the kid classic, but they’re jumbo sized and unexpectedly sandwiched with a ribbon of banana caramel.
The chocolate-hazelnut truffles look like real truffles, roughly shaped, textured with nibs, and packed on rice like the prized ingredient. There are tidily rolled mignardises, usually a treat at the end of a luxurious meal, in this case caramels flecked with cherry blossoms, and tooth-sinking coffee nougat that crunches into toasted almonds. And tropical granola with mango and coconut — remember fancy granola? The kind that adds texture or traction to a multi-component dessert, or comes as a take-home treat with the check, to savor again the next morning.
The packaging is part of the appeal. Jenny Kondrasky, a creative producer and Muncy’s girlfriend, is partnering on the project. She hired Where’s Gut Studio, a graphic design firm that came up with the logo, packaging, and an amorphous blue character that frolics across the box. Muncy says they wanted a slightly more unusual unboxing experience, on beyond the ubiquitous pink doughnut box.
Drool launches online orders today through Tock, for pickup in the Dogpatch or local delivery through Postmates. These weekly boxes must be preordered, and they’re available only on Saturdays.