At the tender age of 25, Ebow Dadzie is already destined for sweet success. He’s been named pastry chef of the year at the 18th Annual U.S. Pastry Competition (after taking third place the previous year). He’s a pastry chef at Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt Hotel; owns Everlasting Impressions, a successful catering company; and co-owns Folukie, a new Bed-Stuy boîte that serves Senegalese, West Indian, French, Trinidadian and American dishes. And he’s in the 2006 Guinness World Records for building the world’s tallest sugar skyscraper, a 17.5-feet-tall replica of—what else?—the Empire State Building.
This Brooklyn-born wonder wasn’t always destined to be a pastry chef. “I was into computers,” says chef Ebow. But an internship that placed him in front of a terminal all day was terminally boring for the high-energy Ebow, and the tech world’s loss proved to be the pastry world’s gain. Studying at the New York City College of Technology, nestled on Jay Street, Ebow found his calling in the confectionary arts. “Once I realized what you could do with chocolate and sugar and how fun it was,” he laughs, “I was hooked.”
The Flatbush-native’s ascent to notoriety has been as dazzling as his showpieces. In addition to his studies at City Tech, Ebow did a few stages in France during his senior year. “Those guys are serious! They beat me up, pretty much.” After graduation, he worked his way up the brigade to land his current gig at the Grand Hyatt, where he makes desserts and, naturally, showpieces for banquets and other fancy functions. “They let me do and try so much there,” he says. His tenure at the Hyatt has whet his appetite for competition. “I assisted the executive pastry chef in a few competitions and then I said, ‘Okay, now it’s my turn.’”
For his most recent and prestigious win, Ebow practiced relentlessly. He traveled to Ghana, his father’s homeland and one of the world’s largest chocolate producers, and found inspiration in the country’s rain forest, sculpting a four-foot-tall tropical tree in chocolate with painstaking detail. He used sugar to craft startlingly lifelike reproductions of the forest’s lush flora and fauna, including a dragonfly, an iguana, a leopard and a toucan. “I changed the cake about eight times. I had almost 20 people taste it. I even had kids taste it, too, because kids’ palates are different than ours. They pick up things we can’t.” The result was a mélange of vanilla mousse, bitter chocolate mousse, raspberry passion fruit geleé, almond sables, raspberry caramel glaze, and lemon-vanilla macaroons. “I put a lot of heart into that cake and I knew going in it was going to be hard to beat me,” he remembers. He won best showpiece and best cake.
Now living in Bensonhurst, Ebow’s aspirations are as limitless as his imagination—he’s set his sights on the 2009 National Pastry Team Championship. Teaching is also on the menu. His uncle has offered to help him open a confectionary school in Ghana. He muses, “Some chefs don’t want to share their knowledge, but what good is it to die with that wisdom? I want to teach and give back.”
Big E, as friends call him, continues to create exotic beverages and down-home desserts that complement the richly perfumed Halal meats served at Folukie, a family affair of a restaurant, named for his aunt, who is also an owner. “We do cheesecake, banana bread pudding, peach cobbler.” There’s not much call for his more exotic desserts there…yet. “When they are ready for avocado ice cream, I’m ready to serve it!”