Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America for 2013.
Each year Dessert Professional names the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America and holds an event to celebrate the honorees and their work. This year’s big celebration was held at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City on the evening of June 3, with each of the 10 chefs creating and serving a dessert of his or her choice. Following is a list of our Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America 2013, short recaps of their careers, and the recipe for the dessert that each chef served. We also include a profile of Florian Bellanger, co-owner of Mad Mac Macarons and permanent judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, who is this year’s Hall of Fame honoree.
- Andy Chlebana
- Bill Corbett
- Brooks Headley
- Christophe Feyt
- Clarisa Martino
- Jimmy MacMillan
- Laurie Jon Moran
- Malcolm Livingston II
- Nancy Olson
- Roy Shvartzapel
- 2013 Hall of Fame Honoree: Florian Bellanger
C.E.P.C., C.C.A., C.H.E, Pastry Instructor, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL
Upon completing an AAS in Culinary Arts from Joliet Junior College, Andy Chlebana attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY to study baking and pastry. Chef Chlebana began his career working for the Four Seasons Chicago, focusing on fine dining desserts. His career has included positions at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island Grill Room, opening team of the Ritz-Carlton Washington D.C., and Pastry Chef/Corporate Account Manager at Albert Uster Imports, Inc. He has spent the last five years teaching baking and pastry at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois.
Chef Chlebana’s recent accolades include First Place in the 2011 Food Network Challenge for Sugar and Candy Fashion; Best Chocolate Piece in the 2011 Pastry Live National Showpiece Championship; and acting as Caption for the 2012 Team USA Coupe du Monde competition. He resides in Plainfield, Illinois with his wife, Heather, and four children.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Andy Chlebana's Chocolate, Raspberry, Amaretto recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Executive Pastry Chef for The Absinthe Group, San Francisco, CA
Bill Corbett joined The Absinthe Group (TAG) in January 2011 as Executive Pastry Chef. With more than a decade of pastry experience at some of the most highly regarded restaurants, he has risen rapidly among the nation’s top pastry chefs. At Absinthe, Arlequin Café, Boxing Room, and Comstock Saloon, Corbett brings technique and innovation to his desserts and pastries, while keeping them accessible and well balanced. Within just a year of overseeing all of these menus, Corbett was honored with the “Best Pastry Chef 2011” award from San Francisco magazine.
A Waterloo, Canada, native, Corbett worked his way up from dishwasher to kitchen-manager to pastry-cook during his youth. After several years kitchen-hopping, he traded Canada for Florida, and shortly thereafter moved to New York City to pursue his career in pastry. In 2004 he was hired by B. R. Guest Restaurants to work under Executive Pastry Chef Lincoln Carson, whom he credits with setting his foundation for classic pastry technique. Together the two managed pastry production for the group’s seven properties.
In 2005 Corbett honed his skills at WD~50 as pastry-sous, learning how to integrate sweet and savory effectively from Pastry Chef Sam Mason. In 2007 Corbett held pastry-chef positions with two Greek restaurants, Dona and Anthos, where his desserts drew rave reviews from critics. In the fall of 2007 he moved to San Francisco to become pastry chef at Michael Mina restaurant. In late 2009, Corbett joined the highly acclaimed Coi as executive pastry chef for chef-owner Daniel Patterson, where he solidified his technical foundation, allowing him to push into new terrain with his desserts. In 2010 Corbett also helped Patterson to open Plum restaurant in Oakland.
For each of TAG’s concepts, Corbett offers an approachable menu while incorporating some unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations for an element of surprise. Highlights include Apple Tarte Tatin with iced buttermilk, hazelnut, and toffee purée; Huckleberry Parfait with yogurt panna cotta, huckleberry meringue, and lemon streusel; Bourbon Banana Split with banana cake and bourbon ice cream; and seasonal morning pastries.
Corbett lives in Oakland, California.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Bill Corbett's German Chocolate Cake recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Pastry Chef, Del Posto, New York, NY
Brooks Headley began his professional cooking career at Galileo Restaurant in Washington, D.C. in 1999 when he was 27 years old. There he learned all the basics from Pastry Chef Laurie Alleman-Weber, his mentor. In Headley’s opinion, this experience was much better than any culinary school.
Headley left Galileo after one short year to take a pastry cook position at a brand new Ritz-Carlton hotel around the corner from Galileo. At the Ritz he learned that he never wanted to work in a hotel ever again. From there he moved on to Ristorante Tosca (also in D.C.) as the opening pastry chef, a restaurant that received excellent initial reviews.
In 2003 Headley moved to Los Angeles where he worked at Les Deux Cafes and then Campanile, where he learned all of Nancy Silverton’s classic food under the watch of then-pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez. In March of 2005, Brooks packed up again and drove back to Washington D.C. to return to Ristorante Tosca. In late 2005 Headley got the pastry chef position at Komi in D.C., “an inspirational place to work and one of the very best restaurants in the country,” according to Headley.
In late 2007, Headley packed up once again and moved to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. His first gig in New York was at Compass, but with perseverance Headley landed exactly where he wanted to be: the following year he became Pastry Chef at Del Posto. Here he works closely with Chef Mark Ladner to make sure that the dining experience has a seamless transition from savory to dessert. In May of 2013 the James Beard Foundation awarded Headley the prestigious Outstanding Pastry Chef medal. Headley lives in Greenwich Village and enjoys his Arnold Palmers with crushed ice.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Brooks Headley's Red and White Stracciatella recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Executive Pastry Chef, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Born in southwest France, Christophe Feyt was introduced to the art of pastry at the patisserie owned by his family for over 40 years. Here he developed a passion for the culinary arts and decided to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
Feyt studied the fundamentals of pastry through both classes and hands-on experience as a pastry apprentice at Pâtisserie Marty and pastry cook at Pâtisserie Mandion, both nationally-recognized shops in southwest France. In 1991, his four years of commitment and hard work garnered him the position of pastry chef de partie for the Prime Minister at his residence in Paris at Hotel de Matignon. Here, Feyt prepared desserts for residents and staff daily as well as for large dinners and receptions held by the prime minister. After one year of preparing desserts for some of the most prominent diplomats in France, Feyt was offered the Pastry Chef position at Pâtisserie Floréal pastry shop, where he was responsible for the production of all pastries, sugar and chocolate showpieces.
In 1994, Feyt earned his Brevet de Maîtrise diploma, making him a master pastry chef, and took his talents to The Bostonian Hotel in Boston, where he oversaw pastry operations for over 250 rooms as well as the acclaimed Seasons restaurant as Pastry Chef of the 4-star hotel.
In 1998, his experience in a high-volume operation led him to the 4-diamond Le Meridien Hotel in Boston. As Executive Pastry Chef, Feyt oversaw all pastry operations for banquets, room service and fine and casual dining outlets. In 2002, Feyt’s excellent management skills and culinary success made him the top pick for Executive Assistant Pastry Chef at Boston’s Mobile 5-star, AAA Five Diamond, Four Seasons Hotel. Here Feyt’s creativity was utilized in the development of banquet, afternoon tea, brunch, buffet and mignardises menus.
In 2005, Feyt became the Executive Pastry Chef at the award-winning Four Seasons Hualalai Resort in Hawaii where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of management and product preparation within the pastry department. Before leaving Hawaii, Feyt left his mark by winning first place at the Kona Coffee Pastry Dessert contest.
Looking for a fast-paced challenge, Feyt joined the AAA Five Diamond team at The Buffet at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas in 2009. As Executive Pastry Chef, Feyt managed a team that created desserts for an average 4,000 guests daily and created show pieces for display. A year later Feyt was recruited as pastry chef of Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino where he oversaw six sous chefs and 35 pastry cooks while managing production for 11 restaurants and shops.
As a result of his hard work and achievements, Feyt was selected to represent The United States in the 2013World Pastry Cup. In this prestigious pastry competition, a three-person team of renowned chefs competed against 22 other countries from around the world. In 2013, Feyt accepted the Executive Pastry Chef position at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where he manages a staff of over 50 pastry chefs. In his current role, Feyt utilizes his knowledge of quality food products and passionate attention to detail to create desserts, personalized amenities and showpieces throughout the resort.
Christophe Feyt's Milk Chocolate Cremeux with Apricot Marmalade. Photo by Jeff Lazar for Dessert Professional
Click the image to the left to see Chef Christophe Feyt's Milk Chocolate Cremeux with Apricot Marmalade recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Dessert Royalty Hasty Torres (left) and Jacques Torres (right) celebrate with Clarisa (center)
Executive Pastry Chef, Mesa Grill NYC, Las Vegas and the Bahamas
Unsure of her career path, but with a passion for pastry, native New Yorker Clarisa Martino enrolled in an introductory baking class at the Institute of Culinary Education. Here she met Pastry Chef Instructor Gerri Sarnataro who saw a natural talent and ability in Clarisa. Chef Sarnataro encouraged Martino to enroll in the Professional Pastry Arts Program at ICE.
Upon Graduation in 2003, Clarisa was hired by Vicki Wells, Corporate Executive Pastry Chef at Mesa Grill. Vicki played a major roll in Martino’s career – mentoring , encouraging, and affording wonderful opportunities for her. Clarisa joined the team at Mesa Grill as a pastry cook, but quickly rose to Pastry Sous Chef because of her aptitude for baking and innate ability in the kitchen.
Martino was invited to be part of the opening team at Mesa Grill in the Cove Atlantis, Bahamas. After a two and a half year stint as the Pastry Chef there, she was called back to New York City, where she took over the reins as Executive Pastry Chef of Mesa Grill NYC, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas. She also works in an advisory capacity at Bobby Flay Steak in the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City. Martino has also appeared on Iron Chef America, Team Flay, and she was featured in an episode of Three Days to Open on the Food Network.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Clarisa Martino's Blueberry Panna Cotta recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Executive Pastry Chef, JMPurePastry LLC
Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan could be considered a pastry triple-threat: highly acclaimed pastry chef, custom mold designer and award-winning video producer.
An artist his entire life, MacMillan never intended to end up in a kitchen. During his first career as a musician he took the odd restaurant job to help make ends meet; he ended up accumulating 15 years of kitchen experience along the way. The creative fulfillment he used to find as a musician now is channeled into his pastry, producing whimsical and wildly inventive desserts.
When MacMillan’s band broke up, he moved to Austin, Texas and began looking for a new steady gig. He was hired on the spot at The Four Seasons, where he quickly saw the parallels between cooking and art. He honed his technique at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin followed by the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel in Seattle.
Returning to Austin in 2002, MacMillan re-opened the historic Driskill Hotel featuring a state-of-the-art show bakery where guests could view all the pastry action while eating their desserts at a modern dessert bar. From there, he opened several independent hotel properties, traveled abroad for specialized training with pastry masters and developed many pastry programs for the luxury properties where he was employed.
MacMillan has competed internationally, medaling in several major pastry competitions such as Truffe D’or (Switzerland), The National Baking and Pastry Team Competition (Atlantic City) and The Indy 500 ‘Food Network Challenge’.
In 2006, MacMillan was appointed the executive pastry chef at Avenues in the five-star five-diamond Peninsula Chicago. He was responsible for the pastry design and development at the property’s four restaurants. He worked initially with Graham Elliot Bowles to make desserts that were at the same time whimsical, classical and contemporary. After a chef change at Avenues in 2008, Chef MacMillan developed a close relationship with new Chef Curtis Duffy. The two closely collaborated so that the meal progression from savory to sweet was seamless in terms of technique, taste and style. MacMillan’s tasting dessert menu featured six sweet courses and included interesting touches such as individually coursed bread service and ever changing take-home sweets.
In 2011 Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan started Chicago-based JMPurePastry LLC with his wife Julie. The duo creates high quality, well designed pastry products for the restaurant and baking industry. JMPurePastry also specializes in producing culinary videos. Chef MacMillan works full time overseeing the pastry program at Cathedral Hall at the University Club of Chicago. For more information on JMPurePastry LLC visit www.JMPurePastry.com.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Jimmy MacMillan's Barolo Nebbiolo recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Executive Pastry Chef, Le Bernardin, New York, NY
A native of England, Laurie Jon Moran knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life when he turned 18, the day the aspiring chef had an eye-opening birthday dinner at Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin starred restaurant Le Manoir a Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, England. Never before had a meal attained such extraordinary heights, and he was determined to achieve that level of quality in his own career. Now as the Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, he incorporates his personal and professional experiences at some of America’s top restaurants into every dessert that leaves his pastry kitchen.
Moran’s passion for food was first sparked by family trips to neighboring France, where he was exposed to the country’s cuisine from a very early age. At just 16 years old, he entered the culinary program at Northampton College and soon realized that he was drawn to the technical and artistic nature of pastry. After working at St. Martin’s Lane Hotel in London, he accepted a position at the one restaurant he always wanted to be a part of: Le Manoir. Under chef patissier Benoit Blin, he gained the discipline that would not only anchor his foundation in classic French pastry, but also expand his knowledge of pastry arts from around the world.
In 2004, Chef Daniel Boulud met Moran at Le Manoir’s “American Food Revolution” event and said if he came to New York, he would have a job at Daniel. Moran moved to New York and quickly rose to Pastry Sous Chef at the restaurant, working closely with Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel to hone his understanding of modern technique and flavor profiles. During this time, he also wanted to learn more and staged with Le Bernardin’s then-pastry chef Michael Laiskonis.
Moran moved on to become Pastry Chef at Terrance Brennan’s Picholine in 2009, where the global influences of New York City helped him to revamp the pastry program and continue to develop his own style. A year later, he was offered a position as Pastry Sous Chef at Thomas Keller’s Per Se, where he worked alongside Sebastien Rouxel and Elywn Boyles. Some of Moran’s most memorable experiences occurred during his two-year tenure, such as leading the pastry team for the “French Laundry at Harrod’s” event, a recreation of the Thomas Keller dining experience in the famous London department store.
When Michael Laiskonis left Le Bernardin in December 2011, Moran was offered his position as the natural choice to uphold the newly revamped restaurant’s celebrated dessert menu. As Executive Pastry Chef, Moran hopes to put his own stamp on the final course with an expanded pastry program that complements chef Eric Ripert’s cuisine while showcasing his signature modern takes on classic French confections.
Click the image to the left to see Chef Laurie Jon Moran's 'Dark and Stormy' recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Photo by Paparaji
Pastry Chef, wd~50, New York, NY
A native of Bronx, New York, Malcolm Livingston attended the Culinary Art Institute of New York City, graduating in 2006 with an A.O.S. in Culinary/Restaurant management. After graduating, Livingston began his restaurant career at Le Cirque, where he was the youngest member of the kitchen. Here, under the tutelage of Pastry Chef Regis Monges, he learned both classical and modern technique from 2006 to 2007.
In 2007, Malcolm began working at Per Se with pastry chefs Richard Capizzi and Sebastien Rouxel, both of whom he considers mentors. At an offsite event, Malcolm met fellow pastry chef Alex Stupak and secured a week-long stagiaire at wd~50. Three months later, in May of 2009, he returned to wd~50 to take up a position as Pastry Sous Chef.
After a year, Malcolm took over the position of Pastry Chef when Alex Stupak left to open his own restaurant. Malcolm relishes the collaborative environment that wd~50 affords him and his team.
Malcolm Livingston II's Frozen Mango, Sake Lees Caramel, Sheep’s Milk, Smoked Cashew. Photo by Jeff Lazar for Dessert Professional
Click the image to the left to see Chef Malcolm Livingston II's Frozen Mango, Sake Lees Caramel, Sheep’s Milk, Smoked Cashew recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Photo by Ellen Silverman
Pastry Chef, Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
A native of Napoleon, North Dakota, Nancy Olson was raised on a farm and exposed to the freshest, seasonal ingredients from a young age. Her father’s cattle produced beef for restaurants across the country, and some of her earliest childhood memories include baking and making jams and jellies with her grandmother and mother.
Nancy attended Concordia College in Moorhead, ND, but, uninspired, left after three years to explore other options. She soon found herself in the kitchen at The Fargo Country Club, initially working only 10 hours a week preparing salads, and becoming a full time cook after two months. Thanks to a few slow nights and ample cookbooks on hand, Nancy began experimenting with pastry and thus a passion for baking desserts was born. She began to introduce weekly pastry specials that were so well received that Nancy was invited to establish a pastry department, which she headed for five years.
Ready for her next challenge, Nancy moved east to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). While at CIA, she secured an externship at Aureole which led to a two year stint as Pastry Sous Chef. She left Aureole in 2002 to join the team at Bouley, but soon moved on to Theo as Pastry Chef alongside Chef Cedric Tovar. Several months later Theo closed and the team of Cedric and Nancy moved together to lead the kitchen of Django. Nancy’s desserts at Django were highlighted in William Grimes’ New York Times review as “homey honesty…almost too good to be true.” Nancy’s final partnership with Cedric was from 2005-2006 at Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria where she was opening Pastry Chef. Later that year, Nancy moved on to become the Pastry Chef at Dona.
In August 2006, Nancy accepted the position of Pastry Chef at Gramercy Tavern, where she built upon the restaurant’s outstanding culinary tradition with her acclaimed pastry program. After seven years in the position, Nancy made the difficult decision to move back to North Dakota in the summer of 2013. She has left an indelible mark on the restaurant through her deeply beloved desserts and the pastry team she has nurtured.
Nancy Olson's Peanut Butter Semifreddo with Chocolate Macarons. Reprinted from THE GRAMERCY TAVERN COOKBOOK. Copyright © 2013 Gramercy Tavern Corp. Photographs © 2013 by Maura McEvoy
Click the image to the left to see Chef Nancy Olson's Peanut Butter Semifreddo with Chocolate Macarons recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
Photo by Battman
Principal and Executive Chef, Common Bond, Houston, TX
After traveling the globe for 12 years, making it a point to work with some of the world’s highest regarded chefs, Israeli-born, Houston-raised Roy Shvartzapel returned to his hometown roots to create Common Bond, an avant garde, modern approach to the idea of a café/bakery/patisserie. It is the culmination of Shvartzapel’s illustrious culinary career.
A graduate of the University of Houston and later the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park (where he graduated top of his class), Shvartzapel undertook stages with a pantheon of the world’s finest chefs, including Michelin three-star Alain Ducasse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.
In 2005, Shvartzapel was a member of the opening team for New York City’s Bouley Bakery. He then travelled to Europe, first working for renowned Paris pastry chef Pierre Hermé, followed by a stint at Spain’s famed elBulli in Catalonia, considered by many to be the best restaurant in the world. From there, Shvartzapel traveled to Brescia, Italy to master the art of panettone with legendary Pastry Chef Iginio Massari. Back in the U.S., Shvartzapel went on to serve as Pastry Chef at New York’s iconic Balthazar and later Cyrus, a Michelin two-star restaurant in Healdsburg, CA. He then realized his culinary dream of working for Thomas Keller as opening Pastry Chef at Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills.
As the Executive Chef of Common Bond, Shvartzapel oversees the daily operations and leads a team of individuals committed to executing savory fare, breads, pastries and gelato, all executed at the highest level. “The goal for Common Bond is not to be the best café/bakery offering in Houston,” says Shvartzapel. “Having tasted all the incredible things the world of pastry has to offer, my intent is to simply be the best.”
Click the image to the left to see Chef Roy Shvartzapel's Lemon, Ricotta, Strawberry and Pistachio Cake recipe. You can also find this recipe by going to the DessertProfessional.com "Recipes" section, under "pastry & baking recipes".
2013 Hall of Fame Honoree:
Chef and co-owner, Mad Mac Macarons
Florian Bellanger grew up in Paris and spent much of his free afternoons baking for his family. At age 15, Bellanger applied to one of Paris’s prestigious pastry schools, the École de Paris des Métiers de la Table (“Paris school of table skills”), but was rejected for being a year too young. By 1986, he graduated from the school with a specialization in pastry cooking and a specialty in chocolate and ice cream. Before starting his own company, Bellanger was the executive pastry chef at Fauchon and oversaw 24 other pastry chefs at its Tea Salon flagship store in New York City, a “legendary French Epicurean emporium” of cakes, cookies, ice cream and sorbet. There, he became known for creating inventive combinations of flavors outside of the norms of tradition, such as éclairs flavored with orange zest, passion fruit or coconut and raspberry marshmallow cake, Toulouse violet ice cream and raspberry-chili pepper sorbet. From 1991 to 1994, he was under the command of famous French pastry chef Pierre Hermé and was also the Executive Pastry Chef for Fauchon’s flagship store in Qatar from 1994 to 1996.
Bellanger was pastry chef of the world renowned three-Michelin-star restaurant Le Bernardin from 1996 to 2001, where his desserts were described as “light and dreamy” by Ruth Reichl of The New York Times. Bellanger is now the chef and co-owner of Mad Mac Macarons (www.madmacnyc.com), an acclaimed French cookie and pastry company, which he helped found in 2006.
Chef Bellanger is a member of City Harvest’s Food Council and a guest chef at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. He also spends his free time donating to charities such as C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program) the Wolfgang Puck Charity and the Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation. Bellanger is also a permanent judge on the Food Network’s competition series Cupcake Wars, over nine seasons and 100 episodes to date.