Food / Sweet Taste Of Success: A Desserter From the Dance

Fifteen years ago, when she was an aspiring modern dancer waiting tables to pay her bills, Claudia Fleming never dreamed she'd win the culinary world's equivalent of an Oscar. But that's just what happened last May when she was named America's top pastry chef by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

Ensconced at New York City's Gramercy Tavern for the past six years, Fleming, 41, is renowned for her deceptively simple multipart desserts that rely on seasonal ingredients and the subtle interplay of temperatures, textures and flavors. Instead of serving an ordinary tarte Tatin with creme fraiche, for example, Fleming makes a...

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