“Everyone likes different desserts, and the dining hall does a good job of providing a diverse selection,” said Tatum McInerney ’13. With red, white, and blue cookies, banana cream pie and German chocolate cake making their occasional appearances at sit-down and walk-through meals, Deerfield students with a penchant for sweets are spoiled by the choices.
But few people recognize who is responsible for this delectable spread. While most are enjoying sweet dreams at 5 in the morning, Head Baker Steven Parsons is busy scooping out cookie dough and pressing pie crusts behind the green swinging doors in the basement of the dining hall.
After graduating from tech school and trying his hand at several occupations, Mr. Parsons eventually found his niche in the culinary world. “It’s what I really love to do,” said Mr. Parsons, who worked at the Northfield Mount Hermon School before receiving the phone call that brought him to Deerfield.
A typical work day for the busy baker consists of mixing Oreo crumb cookie batter for the next day, baking strawberry apple crisp right before lunch is served, and sticking homemade bread dough into one of Deerfield’s supersized ovens.
One particularly difficult dessert to make is Rocky Road Brownies. “They are three desserts in one,” explained Mr. Parsons. “We have to make the brownie and cheesecake layers and the fudge topping, which makes it quite complicated.”
Another student favorite, Christmas dinner’s much-anticipated Baked Alaska, takes hours to assemble. But Mr. Parsons, who considers the festive dish one of his favorite desserts, said, “I’ve done it so many times, so even though it still is a major project, it really isn’t so bad.”
Mr. Parsons is also responsible for the creation of several other Deerfield desserts. Heath squares, which Mr. Parsons noted are “something you can’t get anywhere else,” are the result of his brainstorming and experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.
Along with the student body, members of the dining hall staff are equally impressed with Mr. Parson’s creativity and consistency. “He’s the best we have,” said Dining Hall worker Steph Mitchell, who also referred to him as “very professional” and a “perfectionist.” Brian Parsons, the baker’s brother, works alongside him in the dining hall and revealed, “He’s serious about his job, but still has a few jokes up his sleeve and is easy to get along with.”
Mr. Parsons emphasized the importance of teamwork: “It’s not just me behind this production. Hank Boston and Tim Mitzkovitz are as much a part of this as I am.”
Truly passionate about and engaged in his job, Mr. Parsons is certainly an important force on the Deerfield food front. As for his dream dinner, Mr. Parsons would like nothing better than “chicken or veal parmesan paired with a nice chocolate torte.”