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Former pastry chef for Emeril loves culinary life
by David Vaughn
Jan 04, 2014 | 40 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alcorn County resident David Vaughan is a former pastry chef for Emeril Lagasse. His sweet sensations have enchanted guests at two legendary New Orleans dining destinations, Delmonico's and Commander's Palace.
Alcorn County resident David Vaughan is a former pastry chef for Emeril Lagasse. His sweet sensations have enchanted guests at two legendary New Orleans dining destinations, Delmonico's and Commander's Palace.
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With hard work and perseverance, David Timmons Vaughan has proven that one can accomplish anything in which they set their mind.

Despite no formal culinary training and modest beginnings, he has become world famous for his delectable desserts and confections.

A former manager at the local Fred's and Dollar General, Vaughan decided retail wasn't for him.

"We parted ways," explained the Tupelo High School graduate.

At only 40 years of age, Vaughan has worked in some of the finest restaurants in New Orleans.

A former pastry chef for Emeril Lagasse, his sweet sensations have enchanted guests at two legendary dining destinations, Delmonico's and Commander's Palace.

"I love seeing the reaction you get from desserts ... just the look that comes over people's faces," Vaughan mused.

"The dinner is the main event, but I get the finale," said Vaughan with barely contained excitement.

When asked his favorite goody to prepare, he exclaimed, "Truffles, tortes, cannoli's ... anything with chocolate. Chocolate is the best."

Vaughan first became interested in cooking when he was only three-years-old.

He and his wife of six years, Angela, hope to pass on the enthusiasm.

"We recently bought our five-year old daughter, Cherub, an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas," acknowledged the designer of desserts.

He admitted he played a bit differently as a child.

"I ran around the kitchen with guns strapped to my side," said Cherub's father with a hearty laugh.

Vaughan was born in Ackerman, grew up in Owensboro, Ky. and now calls Alcorn County home.

He has lived in many places, but it was at a restaurant in Oxford where he finally found his niche.

"I was working at Yocona River Inn while I was going to college and a well known lady asked me to make her a crème brûlée," he said.

According to Vaughan, she wanted the top torched three times so that the caramelization would make it extra crunchy.

"A short time later, she demanded to see the person who made it," he continued.

"I thought I was in trouble, but she loved it," explained Vaughan. "I knew then that it was what I wanted to do."

The baker described his cooking style as Southern eclectic.

"French cooking is a lot like Southern cooking," Vaughan interjected. "If it calls for butter or heavy cream, double it."

He beamed as he recounted his time at Commander's Palace.

"Everything had to be perfect or not at all. If a stray pecan fell from the pie and onto the plate, we had to 86 it. We didn't waste anything though. We'd turn it into something else, like a pecan pie cobbler," said Vaughan with a chuckle.

At Commander's Palace, anything less than extraordinary was unacceptable.

Vaughn reflected on a few incidents where he found this to be true.

"I remember feeling so sorry for this girl they asked to cut up the cheesecake. I'm not sure if she cut it with a hot knife or scooped it out with a spoon, but she massacred it and got into a lot of trouble," he recalled.

"It took four days to prepare those cakes because we made our own cheese. We started off with 18 cheesecakes and only had 6 for the service that night," he recounted with a grimace.

Another time he recalled a guy being fired for losing his sauce.

"How do you lose four gallons of sauce?" exclaimed the baker with fresh incredulity.

When asked what Lagasse was like in person, Vaughan described him as being just like he is on his show.

"He's not a very tall man," he continued, "He's probably close to five inches shorter than me, but he has this great big personality."

In his culinary travels, Vaughan has encountered a number of high profile guests, but the one that most stands out in his mind is the late Jimmy Dean.

"He was wearing red cowboy boots and this jacket that had a phoenix on the back made of red sequins. I asked him how he was enjoying his bread pudding soufflé," remembered the pastry chef.

He replied, "'Well, son, it's pretty good, but is there any way could have gotten a little sausage in this?"

"I just died out laughing because that was actually what I expected him to say," acknowledged Vaughan.

Another time, at the University Club in Oxford, he was asked by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to make a sugar-free dessert.

He rose to the occasion with his fresh berry sauvignon, but expressed his hesitation in doing so.

"I don't do sugar free. The substitutes just don't behave the same," confirmed Vaughan.

He has been toying with the idea of opening up his own store front or food service trailer sometime in the near future.

For the craftsman of cakes, the sweet life has never lost its glitter.

With the skill of an artist, he continues to craft his delicious masterpieces for others to savor.
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