Born and raised in Ecuador, Chef Carlos Zhagui fell in love with pastries at an early age. His mother would often say that his attraction to pastries began when he fell into a pail of cream at a young age. Initially worked as a dishwasher when he first moved to America. He mustered all courage to ask the pastry chef at Campagna if he could work with him. To make a long story short, Chef Carlos took over the pastries for the restaurant in 1999.
Chef Carlos then transferred to Beppe, where he worked for 9 years as both pastry chef and sous chef. He was then reassigned to the Russian Tea Room as pastry and sous chef for 3 years. When the Gansevoort opened, Chef Carlos was hired as the head pastry chef of Asellina, where he plays with his magic in creating Italian treats with the team for a steady 3 years now.
We asked Chef Carlos about his passion for cooking, and he responds by saying, “Everything I do is with passion and love, so I can make people smile, especially kids.”
Chef Carlos shares with us his recipe for Pumpkin Panna Cotta. “As fall nears, everyone uses pumpkins as decorations, so why not bring the festive squash to the plate! The warm spices and rum are the perfect compliment to a chilly fall evening. This dessert is easy, but will impress all your guests,” he explains when we asked why the recipe is perfect for the season.
Pumpkin Panna Cotta
2 cups heavy cream
2 cup of half and half
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 15oz Can pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 gelatin sheets
Cold water (for gelatin)
1. Mix gelatin with cold water and let soak for 5-10 minutes.
2. Mix heavy cream, half n’ half, and sugar in a pot and put on stove at medium heat. Bring the mixture just to boiling and remove from heat.
3. Mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
4. Wring out gelatin sheets and add to mixture.
5. Stir everything together until smooth, and pour into 4 ounce plastic containers. Cool in the refrigerator.
Maple Spiced Rum Syrup
3 ounces Dark Spiced Rum
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 cup Maple Syrup
2 Tbls Water
1 Cinnamon stick
3 Anise star
1. Combine all ingredients except rum and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
2. Once at desired thickness add rum and remove from heat.
3. Discard the cloves, cinnamon, and anise star.
1. Once chilled, remove the panna rotta from the cup by using a small pairing knife.
2. Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup and place upside down flat onto serving plate.
3. Once removed from plastic, drizzle panna cotta with sauce and crumble amaretto cookie above and around plate.
Asellina Ristorante is located at 420 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016.
Hours of Operation
Saturday & Sunday 7:00am – 5:00pm, 5:30pm – 1:00am
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 11:00am, 11:30am – 3:30pm, 5:30pm – 1:00am