Coi's New Pastry Chef Savors the Unknown

Bill Corbett
​Two weeks ago, Bill Corbett became executive pastry chef at Coi. He'll handle the same task at Bracina when it opens on the ground floor of the new Jack London Market on Oakland's waterfront this spring. Over the years, Corbett has hauled in some accolades (2007 Rising Star Pastry Chef from StarChefs) and made the rounds, particularly in New York, where he iced, sauced, and drizzled at Dona, Anthos, and wd~50. At wd~50, he worked under the lauded Sam Mason, currently of Tailor, his own place. We recall recently seeing Mason sling some skirt steak ice cream in a losing campaign against Morimoto on Iron Chef America. Before accepting the Coi gig, Corbett was executive pastry chef at Michael Mina here in San Francisco.

We were curious about Corbett's plans for Coi, so we went ahead and asked him what he had swirling around his immersion circulator. "I don't really have any set dishes planned," he said. "I usually start with an idea that sets me on a path. It may be a technique, an ingredient, or a twist on the familiar. Once I start down that path I never really know where I'll end up. It's kind of one of the more exciting aspects of cooking, the discovery. Sometimes I run into a dead end and have to start over and others times I'll start with a specific idea and make discoveries along the way ending up somewhere completely different from where I began. I think that's a theme that kind of runs throughout the menu at Coi, a sense of discovery. You won't be seeing any of my old dishes at Coi because this restaurant is more about moving forward and challenging ourselves as a team to be better than we were last year or even last week. To continue with that journey of discovery."

So, we wondered, what will change? "The desserts will hopefully improve because there will be a new set of ideas and techniques being brought to the table," said Corbett. Hmm. We wanted specifics. We asked Corbett to give us a hint as to what's been inspiring him, and he obliged: He's working on a little idea right now with McEvoy Ranch olio nuovo and quince.

Meanwhile, speaking of quince, former Quince chef de cuisine Evan Rich was named to the same position at Coi.

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