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Kevin Acosta, 26 of East Rutherford and the owner of the new cake and pastry business Kevin’s Slice of Heaven, learned how to bake at the heels of his grandmother.
“I grew up in an Argentinian household with all those flavors,” said Acosta, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. “I was always on the stepping stool in the kitchen, baking with my grandmother.”
And still, as he begins his first solo business, his baking is a family affair. Kevin’s Slice of Heaven is based in East Rutherford and run out of his parents’ house – cluttered with professional baking equipment he bought in preparation of owning his own bakery. Until he finds a vacant shop to settle into – hopefully in the Rutherford area, Acosta said — he’s whisking, spicing and piping in his parents’ kitchen to fulfill online orders.
He opened Kevin’s Slice of Heaven in July.
Balcarce, an Argentinian cake, is a specialty at Kevin’s Slice of Heaven. (Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Acosta)
His specialties? Balcarce – an Argentinian cake – is a favorite. His take on the cake starts with a light and fluffy genoise sponge that’s layered with dulce de leche and Chantilly cream (basically whipped cream with more sugar), and finished off with macerated peaches, meringue and a dusting of coconut.
Also popular is the basque cheesecake, baked in high temperatures so the outside becomes caramelized and forms a heady, deep brown crust; and the cream puffs, inspired by his time studying in France, and made with craquelin dough that forms sugary ridges.
Despite Acosta’s passion for baking, he attended the culinary program at the prestigious CIA.
“I was going to go into the baking and pastry program, but I had last-minute jitters and picked culinary,” he said.
Throughout the program, he learned classic French techniques that form the foundation of his baking today and got his Bachelor’s degree in culinary science.
“I only took two baking courses,” he said.
But, his education in all-things savory has refined his technique while making sweets, Acosta explained.
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“I have the palate of a savory chef, which really helps with my baking,” he said. “Nothing is too sweet. I like to balance with contrast and play with liqueurs and spirits.”
He went on to do his externship under famous French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud at the now-closed DBGH Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan. He later worked at Bar Boulud, French bakery Maison Kayser and restaurant Lure Fishbar, all in Manhattan.
“I worked at some places that didn’t make everything from scratch,” he said. “That’s shameful to me. You can always tell in the quality if people don’t make things from scratch. I’ll never do that at Kevin’s Slice of Heaven.”
Acosta’s lemon poppy seed pound cake is a prelude to fall. (Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Acosta)
Now, he’s putting his own twist – largely inspired by his Argentinian heritage – on his Kevin’s Slice of Heaven desserts. Many of his Latino clients have complimented him on the familiar flavors he incorporates in treats like the balcarce cake.
Acosta is working to flesh out his menu and hopes to be in his own bakery soon. His baked goods can be ordered by messaging him on Instagram @kevinssliceofheaven.
“It makes me so happy to spread joy through food,” Acosta said. “I love that people are having conversations over my food and forming bonds.”
Rebecca King is a food writer for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @rebeccakingnj Instagram: @northjerseyeats
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