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CHEF DAVY CROCKETT
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Richmond Hill Chef Takes the Cake
Davy Crockett Murray creates the ‘star’ of the Savannah Food and Wine Festival party
By Brent Zell Bryan County News
POSTED: November 18, 2015 7:38 p.m.
Davy Crockett Murray of Richmond Hill, the owner of Coastal Confections, stands by his monstrous chocolate cake, designed to look like a whiskey barrel, during a Savannah Food and Wine Festival party on Nov. 12 at the Georgia Railroad Museum.
Early on during the Savannah Food and Wine Festival party at the Georgia Railroad Museum, the most-asked question seemed to be, “Is that a cake?”
The cake’s creator, Davy Crockett Murray of Richmond Hill, didn’t make it easy to deduce for the party’s guests. His creation — a 40-inch-tall chocolate cake with bourbon-chocolate ganache filling — looked exactly like a whiskey barrel, in line with the party’s 1920s speakeasy theme.
Murray, the owner of Coastal Confections, said in an email to the Bryan County News that the crowd was fooled, especially when he placed a
normal-sized, two-tier cake on top. However, the ruse had its drawbacks.
“This actually raised a little problem during the event due to guests coming up and setting things on the barrel, which we had to quickly say, ‘Please no,’” he wrote.
Still, the confusion didn’t take away from the positive attention the cake received. Jesse Blanco, the host of the Savannah culinary TV show “Eat It and Like It,” said the cake was “probably the star of the show,” considering the numerous photos taken of it.
It also was a huge honor for Murray, as it was first time any bakery or any Richmond Hill business had been invited to the festival.
During a phone interview Tuesday with the News, Murray said he was approached about a month ago. He was recommended by Blanco, who was part of the group brainstorming for the festival. The subject of what to make for the party’s dessert came up, Blanco said, and it was decided that something different was needed for this year’s event — something beyond the cupcakes and truffles from previous years.
Blanco remembered Murray from a baking contest last year in Richmond Hill, and the chef popped into his head. Murray was contacted shortly after.
“He couldn’t have said yes more quickly,” Blanco said.
Murray was given 100 percent creative control over the cake, and since the party’s theme was the Prohibition era, he wanted to make a cake centered on booze.
He started baking the cake the Monday before the event. That process required 10 hours by itself. He said he started with four square cakes put together to form one big cake. Then, the corners were cut off to make the barrel shape.
There’s also the cake’s structural engineering to consider. A piece of Masonite board was inserted every 4 inches with wooden pegs to support the weight of the next layer up. And the bottom of the cake had to be hefty in order to handle the weight above it. Murray described it as “like building a skyscraper.”
It took 35 to 40 hours to make the cake, he said.
Then came what Murray said is the toughest part: transporting the cake. He said he can control what goes on in the kitchen and can prepare well for delivery, but it still takes just one driver cutting him off to make things messy. Adding to the degree of difficulty was that the barrel cake — which weighed more than 200 pounds — was top-heavy.
According to the Internet, Murray said, his trip to the Railroad Museum would take about 45 minutes. He left two hours ahead of the event’s 8 p.m. start in order to “take it easy.”
The cake made it to its destination in good shape — and good flavor, apparently. Murray said 500 plates and forks were brought for the party guests to eat pieces of the cake, and they were gone by 10:15 p.m. He said that quite a few people came back and got three or four pieces.
“Beyond all of that — the beauty, the idea, the creativity — it was darn good cake,” Blanco said.
Murray didn’t get much time to rest following his good night. He had three weddings to get cakes to on Saturday. He said when they got done with the party, cake decoration for the other jobs lasted from 8 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday.
Such is life when one is the preferred cake decorator by Savannah wedding venues and the featured bakery for Savannah and the surrounding area on top wedding-vendor site WeddingWire.com, among other accolades.
And, of course, he can always say he fooled a lot of the people a lot of the time with a cake.
“Couldn’t ask for a better night,” he said.
Davy Crockett Murray makes art you can eat
By Jeff Whitten Bryan County News
POSTED: September 3, 2014 12:29 p.m.
Local Chef making name for himself by
putting 'art' in the culinary arts.
Davy Crockett Murray doesn’t just make candy, breads or cakes.
He makes works of art you can eat.
"It is edible art," said Murray, who with his wife Lynda runs Coastal Confections from their Kilkenny home they bought because it was close to the coast and had a great kitchen.
The Murrays promptly put the kitchen to use. In business for less than a year, Coastal Confection’s executive chef is starting to make waves in the cake business. He’s created made-to-order theme cakes for local dignitaries, regional celebrities - does the name Swingin’ Medallions ring a bell? - and various civic groups. He’s created birthday cakes and wedding cakes, and after a segment aired on WTOC his star really began to rise.
With good reason, fans say.
"Davy has very unique skills. He not only possesses the talent but also the creativity to create cakes that most people just dream about," said Suites at Station Exchange Director Rich Delong. "I guess you could say he makes your ‘cake dreams’ come true."
So many people have taken notice of Murray’s talents, the Effingham County native is just about booked solid through the end of the year and it’s all he and Lynda, a Navy veteran, can do to keep up with demand/ This despite prices that start on the high side - a wedding cake can start at $475 and can go up well beyond that.
But you get what you pay for, and plenty seem willing to pay. The demand’s gotten to the point Murray plans to open his own "brick and mortar" shop in Richmond Hill sooner rather than later, and he’s not at a loss for words to let people know what’s in store once Coastal Confections moves from the pink house on stilts on Oyster House Lane to Highway 144.
"Once we open … we will offer a full range of desserts to the public including many Italian desserts such tiramisu, along with sfogliatelle an extreme flaky pastry and our award winning cannolis that we fill with traditional Italian ingredients like impastata cheese and orange citron," Murray said.
Add in French and Austrian pastries "such as Strudels, Paris Brest, Religieuses, and Gateau St Horne’s cake," Murray said, and the plan is to put Richmond Hill on the map "as the destination place to go for traditional European desserts and pastries along with artisan breads and phenomenal wedding cakes."
Yet all this wasn’t even in the picture back in 2008. Murray was seemingly about as removed from fine dining as you can get.
"I was a truck driver, I drove a tractor trailer," said Murray, who is 43. "I did it for 15-some-odd years, but when the fuel got to be above $4-something a gallon and you’re
spending $1,000 just to fill up your truck, it’s time to do something else."
Since Murray liked to eat and he liked to barbecue, he figured that something else might as well have something to do with food. So, Murray enrolled at Savannah Tech and the rest has been a whirlwind of pastries and chocolates, theme cakes and croissants.
He studied under noted chef Jean Vendeville, the winner of the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Chef Educator of the Year – Chef Gearry Caudell and Chef Gabe Gardner – and the former truck driver who got his middle name because his folks really liked Fess Parker rapidly became something of a phenom in the local culinary world.
And then one of his cakes caught the attention of Savannah philanthropist Dick Eckburg, who in 2012 created a scholarship at STC in Vendeville’s honor and awarded one to Murray. It paid for his second degree - he has both a culinary degree and one in baking and pastry - and cemented his love for Savannah Tech’s culinary arts program.
Had that not happened, Murray said he might’ve wound up as a chef in a restaurant. And that’s not bad. But the scholarship and the continued support of Savannah Tech and Vendeville led the culinary artist to follow the same instinct that guided him into making pastries to begin with, and he obviously hasn’t looked back since.
Last week, Murray and his wife delivered a $1,400 wedding cake he called "Love Story" on the same day they took a white and gold wedding cake to the City Center Hill in Richmond Hill and a nautical theme cake to Fish Tales for a birthday.
A visit to Murray’s website shows everything from cakes shaped like Georgia Southern logos to the cake he recently made for Vendeville to celebrate the chef’s selection as the top chef educator in the country to one for Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed’s 75th birthday.
The photos, the creations, they’re too numerous to list - suffice it to say Murray makes art out of sugar and cakes without flour and loaves of cabernet blue cheese bread by combing flour and sourdough and water and walnuts and raisins and cabernet wine with other ingredients.
And that’s a small sample.
But only the finest ingredients will do, and Lynda, who is aiming toward a degree in engineering, said that includes Callebaut and Cacao Barry chocolates that can cost more than you want to know for slabs roughly the size of a large TV dinner.
Recently, Murray nearly waxed ecstatic as he described "a 3-foot-tall chocolate sculpture that we did for a customer, it is shaped like a heart with chocolate plate and white chocolate roses and chocolate leaves surrounded by an assortment of our chocolate truffles," he emailed. "In fact, everything on (the sculpture) was edible chocolates."
Remember, Murray is describing more than food. It’s art. The edible kind.
For more information on Murray and Coastal Confections go to www.coastalconfections.net.
Or or facebook.com/coastalconfections2013.