Tracy Kamperdyk Assue remembers first being drawn to her craft when she was a young girl growing up in Westchester County, NY. “I have such fond memories of baking with my aunt, which was something I enjoyed doing whenever we had the chance,” she recalls. “But never in a million years did I think that someday I would be a pastry chef!”
Kamperdyk Assue revisited the idea of the culinary arts while she was studying marketing in college and realized she wanted a more creative career path outside of a cubicle. After working in a restaurant during a summer break, she left the marketing tract and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She graduated with a degree in professional cookery and enhanced her résumé with successful stints in the kitchens of some of New York City’s most acclaimed chefs, including Charlie Palmer, Gray Kunz, David Burke, and Rick Moonen. Kamperdyk Assue then came to another realization: Her interest in savory cooking, especially in working the meat station and butchering, was waning. She found new inspiration when working with famed Pastry Chef Richard Leach of Park Avenue Café to make the switch to pâtisserie.
In 1990, the opportunity arose to work alongside her husband, Peter Assue, to open City Limits, and Kamperdyk Assue knew she had found the sweet spot. Now as the executive pastry chef for both City Limits locations, and the sister restaurant, Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY, she crafts desserts with Americana flair, including nostalgic pastries, seasonally inspired pies, artisan breads, and frozen treats. She produces the baked goods and desserts for both restaurants and the retail store out of City Limits state-of-the-art bakery in Stamford, CT, which features a custom-built bread oven imported from France and a top-line ice cream machine. “I love that I’m able to create iconic American desserts in a diner setting using classic French techniques and top-quality ingredients such as Valhrona Chocolate and Tahitian Vanilla Beans,” she says. “My Key Lime Pie, for instance, I make with Crème Fraîche folded into homemade Lime Curd to lighten it up.”
Kamperdyk Assue first met Peter Assue when working at Charlie Palmer’s restaurant after culinary school. The two worked next to each other on the line, and after the first week were “pretty much inseparable,” she remembers. They were wed in 1990 and now live with their three children in Westchester County, NY. When they aren’t at City Limits, the Assues enjoy driving into New York City and dining out together as a family.