GOLD COAST — Meg Galus has come up with what she says is the "best chocolate chip cookie you have ever had."
The $3 cookie — a bit soft, a bit crispy, packed with four kinds of chocolate — is but a mere morsel of what the Park Hyatt Chicago's executive pastry chef has been working on lately.
On April 26, Galus will open a pop-up chocolate shop — basically, her dream come true — in the hotel lobby at 800 N. Michigan Ave. It will be open to the public through May 11.
"I get to geek out about my favorite ingredient," she said.
There will be bonbons, brownies, marshmallows, caramels, and plenty of French specialties (Galus is a French Pastry School graduate) such as eclairs, macarons and financiers.
There will be double chocolate croissants — as in chocolate dough and a chocolate filling. It is Galus' response to her own biggest pet peeve about chocolate croissants, which is the "lame little piece of chocolate in the middle."
There will be a custom tea blend infused with "these crazy Belizean cocoa nibs," the result of a day spent with specialty ingredient specialist Rodrick Markus of Rare Tea Cellar.
And there's that cookie, which contains dark, dark milk, milk chocolate and cocoa nibs.
"You get the full sensory experience. It's a really dangerous cookie," she said.
Pastries will cost between $3 and $10. Boxes of bonbons will be in the $30 to $50 range, though customers will be able to customize boxes for as much as they want to spend.
Recent chatter in food circles questioning the importance of the restaurant pastry chef hasn't weighed on the veteran Galus, an Andersonville resident who has worked at Tru and the Sofitel Chicago. She describes Chicago's pastry community as incredibly talented and supportive.
"Everybody's got each other's back," she said. "I feel really inspired, and we're all pushing each other."
Not to say there isn't competition. Galus is one of four pastry chefs vying for the title in the third annual Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition, an intense, one-day contest broadcast as an online video series. She placed third the first season.
For the final episode on April 21, Galus will host an invite-only viewing party (and a preview of the chocolate pop-up) at the hotel. She's keeping mum on the results, though "obviously I wanted to redeem myself," she said.
The pop-up shop already has her fantasizing about doing another one — all vanilla.
"I believe vanilla is the next big thing. I'm advocating for this really, really hard," she said. "People don't understand what's out there in terms of vanilla. It's so much more than the vanilla extract they get at the store."