The Dancing Mule Pastry Chef

Tried a tasty pastry at The Dancing Mule? Drew Haldiman is the pastry chef whose skills create those delectable treats.

    Drew Haldiman is the pastry chef at Dancing Mule Coffee, but that doesn’t quite sum up the man who has, in his words, “worked the full spectrum,” from a wholesale bakery, making a thousand pounds of bread in a morning, to a five-star restaurant with 10 components on a plate, to baker at Big Cedar Lodge. Now he’s making his own pastry creations at Dancing Mule.

417: How did you get into cooking?
Drew Haldiman: It’s always been a hobby. I like the science side of it; you just mix a bunch of stuff together, and it spits out the other end something tasty and delightful.

417: What is the first thing you ever cooked?
DH: French toast, or a fried egg.

417: Did your parents cook when you were growing up?
DH: My mom burns everything. But my dad, he’s a grill master.

417: What does your dad think about your food now?
DH: He likes it definitely. He gives me a hard time that I don’t just go make it at his house, so he doesn’t have to pay for it.

417: Worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
DH: We did a tri-stack brownie at another job. Someone misread the recipe, and instead of putting .5 ounces of salt in a brownie, they put 5 ounces, so I took a bite of this supposedly chocolatey brownie, and it tasted like a salt brick.

417: Favorite thing you’ve eaten that someone else has made?
DH: There’s a thing called an opera cake. It’s a seven- to nine-layer French cake with coffee syrup and butter creme, and it’s covered in chocolate. It’s decadent. I like the wow factor.

417: Do you watch Hell’s Kitchen?
DH: I can’t even watch it. It reminds me of scary stuff. But I understand if your name’s on the outside of the building, you want things done your way, and if it’s not, then get out.

417: Will you be the demanding chef?
DH: In 30 more years, I could see if someone working for me doesn’t know how to make a cinnamon roll, I’ll be like, “Aaagh!” It would drive me nuts.

417: What was your title at Big Cedar?
DH: Baker. I opened the kitchen. They have one kitchen in the commissary that caters to all of their restaurants. Another guy and I would have to be there at 1:45 a.m. and have breakfast delivered to the restaurants by 5 or 6 a.m.

417: Favorite thing to make here?
DH: Cinnamon rolls. We also make some really good chocolate chip cookies, too.

417: What is your favorite coffee blend at Dancing Mule?
DH: Our house is really good. Our espresso blend is the greatest smelling thing. I wish they made a candle of it.

417: Does your son help you out in the kitchen?
DH: He’s a great food tester because he’ll tell me if it’s good, or if it’s not good. He either nods his head, “Yes,” and stuffs it in his mouth, or he just drops it.

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