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Pastry with a View: Meet Jamie Welsh of The Coastguard House

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Jamie Welsh stands out as a creative force in the pastry world, blending precision with artistry to craft delicious creations. Her journey began at a young age, nurtured by a passion for baking instilled by her mother. Welsh’s path eventually led her to Newbury College in Boston, where she honed her skills and discovered her love for pastries. Now, as the pastry chef at The Coast Guard House in Narragansett, Rhode Island, Welsh’s creativity and approach to pastry goes beyond recipes; it’s about experimentation and novelty.

Beyondish caught up with Welsh to hear more about her background, how she started baking, and her experience working at the fabulously situated Coast Guard House of Rhode Island.

What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

I’ve been baking since I was a little kid. My mom encouraged it by getting me an Easy-Bake Oven and I would often bake for friends and kids on my sports teams. However, it wasn’t until high school, when I had the opportunity to take a culinary class, that I realized baking could be a career. My teacher played a significant role in guiding me. I ended up attending Newbury College in Boston for culinary studies. And while I enjoy cooking and often cook at home with my husband, my true passion lies in pastries. During high school, I worked at a bakery, which profoundly influenced me. I enjoyed the precision required in pastry making, but also the creativity it allows. As someone who considers themselves very creative, I was drawn to this aspect of pastry work.

Your aspirations started early.

Yes, for a friend’s 14th birthday I decided to make a big, colorful cake. It was ambitious for my first attempt, with multiple tiers and rainbow frosting. I remember spending a lot of time researching how to execute it properly on the internet. Looking back, it wasn’t very complicated, but it felt like a big deal at the time.

Can you share a bit about your journey to where you are today?

I had the opportunity to explore different paths. I even took a Chinese cuisine course. During my sophomore year, I gained practical experience by working as a line cook at Showcase Cinemas in Chestnut Hill. Within a few months I transitioned to the role of pastry chef. I also worked alongside the pastry chef at Davios Steakhouse, where I learned even more. This experience, paired with my culinary degree, provided me with an understanding of both the culinary and management aspects of the industry. Through menu planning and being involved in several events, I was able to better understand my range of capabilities.

What was your path to The Coast Guard House?

During college, I had worked a few jobs to support myself. I started dating someone who lived in Coventry, Rhode Island, which prompted me to decide where to relocate after college. I found a job in front house management at The Coast Guard House and decided to give it a try. Under the mentorship of the manager, Bob Leonard, I learned the ins and outs of front-house operations. However, I soon realized that my passion lay in the back of the house. After six months, I transitioned to kitchen management and expo roles. It was during this time that the head chef learned I could bake. We made cookies one night, and he thought they were fantastic. He offered me a position as a full-time pastry chef, and this unexpected opportunity allowed me to pursue my passion for pastry.

What do our readers need to order when visiting here?

One of my favorite things to make is our cheesecake, which has been a staple on our menu for six out of eight years. It uses local Narragansett ricotta, giving it a lighter texture compared to traditional cheesecake. I also enjoy putting creative spins on classic desserts. For example, I make a limoncello tiramisu, and our crème brûlée often features unique toppings like biscotti chips.

How do you dream up all those marvelous creations?

When it comes to recipe development, I consider the season and what ingredients are readily available. And while we stick to a classic menu, I like to incorporate new and trending flavors from the culinary world. I also draw inspiration from special events like wine and beer dinners, where I can play off the flavors of the beverages. For instance, during an oyster-themed dinner, I created a caramel tart with smoked pecans brittled using oyster brine. This allowed for a unique combination of sweet and salty flavors that paired well with a smoky merlot.

It’s hard to imagine, but you actually left this glorious spot for a while. What brought you back?

Being part of The Coast Guard House is everything to me. It’s more than just a workplace; it’s like being part of a family. We share both the good and the bad days, but what keeps us together is our strong communication and trust in one another. Even when faced with challenges, we find joy in each other’s company and support one another like family. I briefly left The Coast Guard House two years ago to explore other opportunities, but soon realized how much I missed it. I ended up meeting my husband during this time and he lived two minutes from The Coast Guard House. It almost felt like a sign to go back. Returning to the team felt like coming home and I was welcomed back with open arms. Come June, I will have been there for nine years.


Nicolette Degrassi

Nicolette Degrassi is a Boston based food and travel blogger. When she's not traveling the world, you can find her reading the latest Book of the Month novel or trying to perfect her sticky toffee pudding recipe. Follow her adventures on Instagram @nadegrassi.


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