Philip Speer fell in love at 17, not with a person, but a craft. It was then that Speer first began experimenting as a scratch baker in his hometown of Houston, Texas. And based on his career to date (and Speer’s unending passion in pastry) it seems like the early experiment was a major success. The Texas native not only discovered a natural taste for the sweeter side of cuisine, but a serious talent for producing it.
Already self-propelled into baking from scratch, Speer vaulted himself into the professional world, helping to open the critically acclaimed Jean-Luc’s Bistro in Austin and working behind the lines at Jean-George Vongerichten’s Bank in Houston. Speer also took on the task of revamping the dessert programs at both Austin’s Seven and Starlite restaurants.
Well-seasoned in the professional world, Speer left Starlite in 2005 to join Tyson Cole at seasonal seafood concept restaurant Uchi. Cole’s emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and creative flavor combinations were an ideal match to Speer’s developing style. At both Uchi and the recently opened (and immediately lauded) Uchiko, Speer treats his desserts as part of the course-progression rather than sweetly emphatic exclamation points. They are featured in Uchi: the Cookbook and built with an emphasis on fresh product and a few key unconventional ingredients—all as a part of Speer’s ongoing love affair with the craft.