Things we like: A play on Dunkaroos at the Loews Atlanta Hotel

Allison Poirier creates desserts that take customers back to their childhood

Things we like: A play on Dunkaroos at the Loews Atlanta Hotel
Poirier’s pastries are designed to take customers back to childhood delights.

Photograph by Bailey Garrot

The Loews Atlanta Hotel’s prime Midtown location gives it a businesslike aura, with corporate guests milling about the lobby. The desserts served within, however, are far from serious. “My approach to desserts, really, is a big kid that’s all grown up,” says Allison Poirier, the hotel’s pastry chef. “I think people nowadays want something nostalgic that tastes good, that looks good, and you obviously eat with your eyes first.”

Spend just five minutes with the chef in her kitchen, and it’s evident that Poirier’s desserts reflect her gregarious personality. “I am just a giant big kid,” says Poirier. “I like bright, colorful things, whether that’s food or cocktails, and I try and exude that as much as I can.” Guests and her coworkers have responded with enthusiasm.

Take, for example, her play on the classic kid snack Dunkaroos. Instead of crispy cookies, she bakes chewy, cinnamon-spiced sugar cookies and serves them alongside a bowl of Funfetti-flecked cream cheese frosting. When she came up with the dessert, she asked herself, “What can we do for adults that will bring us back a little bit?” The answer was sweet and colorful Dunkaroos. “Opening up the package of Dunkaroos was pretty cool when you were a kid,” she says. Other youthful desserts that have appeared on the ever-changing menu include an orange Creamsicle–inspired vanilla bean cheesecake with a blood orange curd, and peanut butter and jelly bars.

The Dunkaroos began as an amenity available only to guests staying at the hotel. It was such a hit, however, that anyone can now order it at the hotel’s restaurant, Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar.

Poirier moved to Atlanta in 2022 after stints at other luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans and the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Jackson Hole. The Arizona native feels at home here, though. She came out in Atlanta, and felt supported doing so when she got the hotel to participate in the Atlanta Pride Parade (she even made Pride-themed cupcakes to celebrate).

Her desserts are all the more impressive when you consider that she has celiac disease. Poirier ensures that there’s always a gluten-free dessert on her menu, but she can’t sample her other treats the way most chefs do. That doesn’t hold her back: “Not to be cocky, but it usually makes me pretty good at what I do,” says Poirier. “I need to make sure that everything tastes good. I have to be pretty close to perfect, if I’m making something I can’t really eat.”

It doesn’t hurt that she has plenty of tasters on hand to check her work. “The kitchen’s an open door, and there’s usually people coming in all day,” she laughs.

This article appears in our March 2024 issue.