Tyler 'Tai' Davis is one of Saint Louis' brightest rising star chefs. His innovative and unique aesthetic has earned him accolades from press and public alike.
Tai Davis honed his cooking craft serving as executive chef of The Tavern of Fine Arts in 2017, and as Executive Pastry Chef for The Chocolate Pig Restaurant in 2018. During his tenure at The Chocolate Pig, Chef Tai's culinary prowess has been featured in Sauce, Delta Sky, Feast, E-Squared, Band's Through Town, and Saint Louis Magazine. Before his success at The Chocolate Pig, Davis worked and staged in other highly praised kitchens, including Element, The Libertine, Niche, Franco, and The Demun Oyster Bar. Most recently, Davis had the opportunity to further showcase his pastry skills on the Food Network Show, Halloween Baking Championship.
Currently, Chef Tai has shifted his focus towards consulting, teaching, and personal chef services under the moniker Æther. He has also re-branded his specialty bakery as Alchemy, and is getting his feet wet in the artistic world as Sacred Geometry by Tai Davis, a concept testing the boundaries between food and art.
What were you doing in food before COVID-19, and how has that changed?
Tell us about this recipe - flavors, suggested pairings, your inspiration for it, etc.
I really enjoy this recipe because it is much easier and more time-efficient than your regular baked cheesecakes. I wanted to provide a recipe that was not only approachable but delicious - I mean, who doesn't like cheesecake?
Matcha can sometimes have some bitter notes, so pairing it with something like cream cheese or chocolate help to really highlight the matcha without it being over-powering. I also enjoy the fact that because it takes very little time, you can focus more on experimenting with different colors and designs. Remember, we always eat with our eyes first, so aesthetics are everything.
What’s exciting to you about working with this single-origin matcha? And/or, what do you love about working with tea?
I enjoy working with the single-origin matcha because it has an amazing flavor, dissolves extremely well and has amazing color! Teas are very under-utilized when it comes to using them in food applications other than for drinking.
But, because they provide so many health benefits (antioxidants, vitamins, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, anti-inflammatories, etc), I believe we can utilize them in less conventional ways to add more tea into our everyday lives.
Tai's Matcha Cheesecake
(for 8 servings)
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (granulated white)
- 1 and 1/2 packets unflavored gelatin powder
- 3 tbsp Big Heart Tea Organic Matcha
- 1/2 cup water (room temp or tap cold)
- x3 8 oz blocks of cream cheese (softened)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp water, hot (but not boiling)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a small bowl, combine unflavored gelatin powder and 1/2 cup room tap/cold water. Mix and set aside.
- To prepare the crust, in a separate bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar.
- Spread the crumb mixture in the bottom of an 8 inch round cake pan.
- Flatten the crumbs by pressing them with the back of a spoon to create a solid crust. Place crust in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- In a small bowl, combine matcha powder with 4 tbsp hot water to dissolve the powder completely. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, mix softened cream cheese and sugar together.
- Add plain yogurt and heavy cream to the cream cheese mixture and mix until smooth.
- Next, add the matcha green tea liquid to the cheesecake mixture and mix until incorporated. The filling will become a light green color. (Tai painted his with dyes. You can do the same if ya want to get fancy - we recommend plant-based dyes in case anyone has a chemical sensitivity).
- Heat the gelatin mixture (it will have solidified) in the microwave until it becomes liquid and add it to the cheesecake filling. Stir well.
- Pour the filling on top of the crust and spread evenly.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours, or until set.