Sherry Yard shares a passion for teaching the nuances of the sweet life, exclusive

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Chef/Judge Gordon Ramsay with guest judge Sherry Yard and judges Aarón Sánchez and Joe Bastianich in the “Sherry Yard Dessert Challenge” airing Wednesday, June 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
MASTERCHEF: L-R: Chef/Judge Gordon Ramsay with guest judge Sherry Yard and judges Aarón Sánchez and Joe Bastianich in the “Sherry Yard Dessert Challenge” airing Wednesday, June 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX. /

As she marks her 40 year anniversary of being in the hospitality industry, Sherry Yard is and will continue to be a legend in the dessert and pastry world. Ahead of her appearance on MasterChef Legends, she graciously chatted on the phone about the FOX television show, her relationship with sugar, and why teaching others about baking is always one of her passions.

Throughout MasterChef Legends, celebrated chefs take center stage to guide the home cooks through various challenges. While culinary competitions sometimes build up the dessert challenges as the hardest task to overcome, Yard shared that baking might not be quite as difficult as some people assume.

After many years of honing her craft side by side with chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud and even serving the most delicious desserts at the Academy Awards, the reality is that Yard has the most simple advice for the home cook. She said, it is really about “making it a little better each time.”

While that advice might need to be embroidered on a tea towel, the reality is that commentary is just as clear as her descriptions in her iconic cookbook the Secrets of Baking. Although that book was published in 2003, it has become many people’s baking bible.

As Yard shared, she set out to help “people understand baking and explaining why all these ingredients go together.” From mastering a pie dough to the classic pound cake, knowledge is the first step to raising the dessert bar.

Sherry Yard on MasterChef Legends
MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Mary Jane with chef/judge Gordon Ramsay and guest judge Sherry Yard in the “Sherry Yard Dessert Challenge” airing Wednesday, June 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX. /

For Yard, she strongly believes in “sharing that knowledge.” It is one of the reasons why teaching is so important to her. Whether it is in a food television realm or with culinary students, that mentorship is key to keeping that passion for baking, pastry and desserts dynamic.

As we chatted, Yard shared how she recently spent time with culinary students at a farmer’s market. While tasting the various cherries, it sparked a discussion on how and why each type of cherry would be used in dessert. That type of dialogue is just as important for a professional chef as it is for a home cook.

Sherry Yard encourages seasonality in her desserts.

Referencing her experience at the farmer’s market, Yard went on to explain that tasting everything is vital to getting the best flavors from a dessert. For example, while the farmers had various cherries for sale, not all the cherries would be used in the same way. A one cherry might be delightful in a pie, but it would not work in another dessert.

At the same time, using fresh, local if available, ingredients will make those desserts sing with flavor. Just like a savory chef sources the best food, dessert and pastry chefs need to take the same approach. Yard shared how she might only use a strawberry marmalade that she had made in season for a winter dessert. Berries in winter do not offer the same flavor as ones at the peak of their freshness.

For Yard, the difference between a good chef and a great chef is knowing those ingredients. And, that scenario does take practice and a willingness to learn.

While the ingredients matter, the reality is that the dessert is often the finale of a delicious meal. Although some people, like myself, might want to decide their dessert first, the sweet ending needs to work with the other foods, often as part of a progression.

In her case, Yard believes that “the desert (allows the meal) to finish in a happy way, in a way where it just balances off the meal.” Whether it is the last piece to the puzzle or that bite that is “just enough,” it seems that a memorable meal needs to reconnect with that old friend, sugar.

Sherry Yard says that sugar is my friend, not my love.

While Yard might have a friend in sugar, she is cheerleader to cooks in the kitchen. She said, “I am cheering for each and everyone.” As fans watch her on MasterChef Legends, the high-fives and positive feedback should hopefully make those desserts rise to the top.

At the same time, she appreciates that sometimes there has to be tough love. Although MasterChef Legends is far from the stern rebukes on Hell’s Kitchen, the reality is that chefs only want the best from the cooks in their kitchens.

Yard believes that all chefs “have high expectations.” Mostly importantly, she believes “it’s better that we tell the truth, then to not tell the truth and they’re repeating the same mistake.” Even though the tone might be a little less abrupt in the MasterChef, strong guidance will make for a better chef.

With the home cooks on MasterChef Legends ready to turn that sugar, flour and butter into sweet celebration, Sherry Yard will be the lifting them up along the way. Even though sugar might be Yard’s friend, some of us will have a long love affair with her delicious desserts.

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MasterChef Legends with Sherry Yard airs on FOX. New episodes air on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST and can be streamed online.