Discussing Desserts with Cowford Chophouse’s Michael Bump

Michael Bump, Executive Pastry Chef of the Forking Amazing Restaurant Group / Photo by Nate Mayo

Michael Bump continues his dessert dominance at Cowford Chophouse, and he’s just getting started. It’s not just Cowford Chophouse; MB is running the dessert program for the whole Forking Amazing restaurant group: Il Desco, Bistro Aix, and  Cowford Chophouse.

Cowford Chophouse is the new kid on the block (in Downtown Jacksonville specifically), and it’s on everyone’s restaurant hit list. I got to try Cowford for dinner and after devouring oysters, steak tartare, and a Filet topped with foie gras, I knew what time it was: DESSERT time! The server went through the dessert menu, but I heard nothing as Cinnamon Rolls stuffed with creme brûlée started to roll around my head. House-made cinnamon rolls with the center gutted, filled with creme brûlée, then torched to get that layer of sugar that you can ice skate on. I thought to myself, “What happens to that gutted center part of the cinnamon roll?” Is Newman back there with several bottles of milk? The server said it goes into the house-made cinnamon roll ice cream, and definitely not into a trash bag to be carted around on Kramer’s bus. Of course! Yes, I’ll take that too please. It’s a must, and it should be at the top of your list. I had to sit down with the creator, Mr. Bump, to get the inside scoop.

WHY DESSERTS?

There’s more science behind it. There are more methods. You need to pay attention to what you’re doing. And I like the idea that you have to be on your feet. You have to be on your toes. You have to be fully awake, because if you miss a key ingredient like salt in a chocolate cake, it’s going to be noticed. It’s so much more methodical.

Michael Bump, Forking Amazing Restaurants, Cowford Chophouse_3 desserts_Photo by Nate Mayo for EUJax
Photo by Nate Mayo

How are the desserts different here to Il Desco and Bistro Aix?

Bistro, of course, is a French restaurant, so a lot of the desserts are themed around French ideas with some minor twists. We are in the south, so we can always embellish things with a little southern charm.

Il Desco is strictly Italian, so I try to maintain Italian desserts over there. Some desserts that we have are bomboloni, which is Italian fried donuts, tiramisu, and a trio of cannoli.

Cowford Is a steakhouse. It literally opens the door to a lot of potential. You can pretty much take desserts in any direction, which I pretty much did. I covered a lot of ground with the menu. Nine items on the menu, which is the biggest dessert menu I have between the three restaurants. When Bistro Aix opens again, it will be up to 9 or 10, too.

What is the most popular dessert at Cowford?

Michael Bump, Forking Amazing Restaurants, Cowford Chophouse, cinnamon bun creme brulee, Photo by Nate Mayo for EUJax
Cinnamon Bun Creme Brûlée / Photo by Nate Mayo

Cinnamon Roll Creme Brûlée. We sell anywhere from 19-20 to 35 a day.

How did that come about?

I was talking with a guy over at Black Sheep named Ricky Norman, and I was like, “Dude, I want to put creme brûlée in a cinnamon roll.” This was 7 years ago. We were doing the menu design for Cowford, and I was trying to think of quirky things, things that could be different, that you don’t see. I actually did research on the internet trying to find Cinnamon Roll Creme brûlées and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I thought, “Sweet, this is my chance!” I was at Bistro, and I started playing around with my Cinnamon Roll recipe. We were doing a tasting, and I let them try it. They tried it, they devoured it. It was in a plate, it was messy, there was like custard everywhere, and everyone was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!” It’s definitely been the biggest seller.

What are your 2 favorite desserts on the Cowford menu?

The Malt Sundae. I’m a big fan of malt candy, malt balls/whoppers. It’s a sundae, we are at a steakhouse, it does make sense. A real simple dark chocolate brownie on the bottom of it, a vanilla malt ice cream on top, we do a butter caramel sauce, whipped cream, homemade malt candy, it’s like Crunchy Whoppers without the extra chocolate, caramelized bananas, and I put Filthy Cherries on it. I’m all about Filthy Cherries.

It kind of sounds like a Banana Split.

It kind of is, it’s a play on it. I think what I’m going to do with the next couple of menus is I’m going to try to keep the same traditions, the same ideas. Now the Cinnamon Roll Creme Brûlée has already been designated Cowford’s signature dessert.

Cowford Chophouse Bottom Floor Dining Room / Photo by Nate Mayo for EUJax, Forking Amazing Restaurants, Downtown Jacksonville, Florida
Cowford Chophouse Bottom Floor Dining Room / Photo by Nate Mayo

What is your typical day like?

Cowford is a beast. I’ve never worked in a restaurant with this many seats and that has sold as many desserts as we sell on a daily basis. It takes me working at least four to five doubles a week, and I have two full time and one part time staff members. It’s crazy.

Did you go to culinary school?

I did. I went to Western Culinary in Portland, Oregon in 1996 and 1997.

Cowford Chophouse, Photo by Nate Mayo for EUJax, Forking Amazing Restaurants, Downtown Jacksonville, Florida
Photo by Nate Mayo

Do you recommend culinary school?

No. I don’t know what the curriculum is nowadays, but the the people I’ve had work for me tell me they learned way more from me than they ever learned in school. If someone has an interest in it, by all means, start off and get a job in it. Yeah you could always go to school for it and spend your $23,000 and be in student loan debt for the next 30 years. Or skip the school, get into a position somewhere. Start working a little bit here, a little bit there, learning.

Bistro Aix is set to reopen in December. You know what that means? 10 more new desserts! Bump says that a seasonal version of the Cinnamon Roll Creme Brûlée could be in the works. Game over! If you have a sweet tooth, head to one of three Forking Amazing restaurants and tell them Natedoesfood sent you!

About Nate Mayo

april, 2022

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