Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in North America for 2014.
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 2, with each of the ten chefs creating and serving a dessert of his or her choice. Following is a list of our Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America 2014, short recaps of their careers, and the recipe for the dessert that each chef served. We also include a profile of Richard Grausman, Founder & Chairman of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), who is this year’s Hall of Fame honoree.
- Georges Berger, MOF
- Ebow Dadzie
- Della Gossett
- Katzie Guy-Hamilton
- Cher Harris, CEPC
- Josh Johnson
- Ghaya Oliveira
- Derek Poirier
- Rudi Weider
- Jennifer Yee
- 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee: Richard Grausman
Owner, Chocolate Fashion, Miami, FL
Born in Lyon, France, George Berger began his pastry journey with an apprenticeship in his hometown at the age of 13. He received his C.A.P. diploma with a gold medal in 1967 and then studied sugar work, marzipan and candymaking at the COBA school in Basel, Switzerland. He went on work at the Savoy Hotel in London and then at Lenôtre in Paris as “decorator” for two years. Chef Berger worked for 12 years in Switzerland in a prestigious hotel and at a chocolate factory. He was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (M.O.F.) in 1979, and has won numerous awards during his career, including a gold medal at Arpajon National Competition in Paris; gold medal at Charles Proust Competition; finalist in Pastry Coupe de France; gold medal at the Swiss Chef Association, among others. Chef Berger now owns and operates Chocolate Fashion, a popular pastry shop in Coral Gables, Florida.
Pastry Chef, NY Marriott Marquis, New York, NY and Pastry Instructor, Monroe College, New Rochelle, NY
Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Chef Ebow Dadzie attributes his culinary passion to being brought up in his grandmother’s kitchen. This passion lead him to enroll as a Hospitality Management student at the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn, where he mastered the craft and earned an externship as an Assistant Pastry Chef at the Restaurant Le Florida in Gers en Gasgone, France, under the guidance of Chef Bernard Ramounad. Upon graduation in 2003, he was hired into his first professional position as a Pastry Commis at the Grand Hyatt New York Hotel.
Throughout his career, Chef Dadzie has received various awards for his chocolate and confectionary work. In 2006 Chef Dadzie played a major role in helping create the world’s largest sugar skyscraper, a replica of the Empire State Building that measured 16 feet, 4.3 inches. Chef Dadzie was also named the 2007 Pastry Chef of the Year by Paris Gourmet and served as team captain at the 2009 National Pastry Team Championship, where he led his team to a bronze medal. In 2010, he won the Medal of the French Government for Excellence in Pastry and Confectionery Arts. He also won first place for best sugar and best chocolate presentations and the Trophy of the Commanderie des Cardons Bleus de France. Chef Dadzie also represented the United States in the 2011 at the Eugene Weiss Concours International de la Confiserie de Chocolat Competition at the Sirah in Lyon, France.
Currently, Chef Dadzie works as Pastry Chef at the New York Marriott Marquis and continues his love for teaching as a pastry and confectionary instructor at Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY. In his three years at Monroe, Chef Dadzie has led the Monroe College Confectionary team to two grand prize championships for the Société Culinaire Philanthropique Salon. He also served as the pastry coach for the 2012 winner of United States Pastry Chef of the Year Competition and was recognized for his educational achievements when he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award and considered to be the Most Influential Pastry Chef 2012 by the Black Culinary Alliance. Chef Dadzie continues to make strides in the pastry world. This past March he was recognized as one of the ‘Rising Stars: 40 Under 40’ by MSR Magazine.
Executive Pastry Chef, Spago, Beverly Hills, CA
Della Gossett completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in Arts Education and Painting. Following her studies, she received an offer from Chicago mold-breaker Trio restaurant in Evanston, where she stayed for six years working with Chicago pastry chef Gale Gand, and later with Executive Chef and restaurateur Shawn McClain.
In 2000, Gossett moved to New York to work at Atlas in Central Park South. While in New York, she placed first among New York pastry chefs in the Quady Wine and Dessert Pairing Competition.
Gossett returned to Chicago in 2001 to work at Charlie Trotter’s, the Mobil Five Star, AAA Five Diamond award-winning restaurant and winner of 10 James Beard Foundation awards. She remained there as the pastry chef for nearly a decade.
During her tenure at Trotter’s, Gossett worked alongside many world-class chefs who collaborated with famed Chef Charlie Trotter, including Ferran Adria of elBulli. She also traveled around the world to train with masters, being one of two American chefs selected to train with Ramon Morato, Best Artisian Master Confectioner in Spain at his school near Barcelona.
Gossett regularly participated with The Charlie Trotter Excellence Program, where three times a week she and members of her team shared their work with Chicago high school or middle students, teaching youngsters about excellence and the importance of always trying to attain excellence, no matter what the pursuit.
Following her time with Charlie Trotter, Gossett accepted a coveted role as Pastry Chef Instructor in The French Pastry School’s L’Art de la Pâtisserie, The Professional Pastry and Baking Program. It was a prime opportunity for Gossett to bring her many years of restaurant experience to share with her students. Gossett’s philosophy on the pastry arts involves a fidelity to the ingredients while also celebrating experimentation and creativity.
In 2012, Gossett was approached by legendary chef Wolfgang Puck to join his team at Spago and lead the pastry department at his famed restaurant.
Gossett is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs. In 2008, she was nominated for the WCR “Women Who Inspire” award. In 2011, Gossett won the National Pastry Team Championship with team captain Donald Wressell and her fellow French Pastry School instructors, Joshua Johnson and Scott Green. The team went on to win the Silver Medal in the 2012 World Pastry Championship.
F&B Director and Corporate Pastry Chef, Max Brenner Worldwide
Katzie Guy-Hamilton oversees all menu development and innovation for Max Brenner. Prior to joining the company, Katzie shaped the celebrated pastry program at New York’s trendsetting Ace Hotel. She also enjoyed a four-year post at Wolfgang Puck’s famous Spago Beverly Hills, where she trained under Executive Pastry Chef, Sherry Yard. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and recipient of its Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award for 2011. Katzie’s talents earned her a spot on Season Two of the television cooking competition, Top Chef: Just Desserts.
Executive Pastry Chef, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA
As Executive Pastry Chef of The Hotel Hershey, Cher Harris oversees a team of pastry professionals providing unique desserts and chocolate creations to all of the hotel outlets, including the award winning hotel restaurant The Circular. The pastry team’s desserts are also featured throughout all banquets spaces, the daily Spa buffet, Trevi 5, Harvest, Cocoa Beanery coffeehouse, Sweets shop and more.
Bringing more than 20 years experience to The Hotel Hershey, Harris has also held positions as Executive Pastry Chef and as part of the opening management team at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Pastry Arts Instructor at Harrisburg Area Community College and Assistant Pastry Chef at The Bent Creek County Club.
As an executive chef in a resort environment, Harris’s area of expertise spans many fields including banquet style desserts, beautiful amenities and centerpieces, delicate Viennoiserie and more. She specifically enjoys the intricacy and creativity involved with creating wedding cakes and plated desserts where she has the ability to showcase a diverse selection of styles to include various texture and flavor combinations.
Harris was recently crowned as The Pastry Queen at The Ladies’ World Pastry Championship in Rimini, Italy. She was selected as a presenter and featured chef at the Powerful Women in Culinary Event in Beijing, China. And as an active member of The American Culinary Federation, Harris has been honored through competition with several ACF Bronze and Gold Medals.
Pastry Chef, Patisserie 46, Minneapolis, MN
Josh Johnson began working in pastry as a teenager in his uncle Richard Rivera’s pastry shop, Ambrosia Euro-American Pâtisserie in Barrington, Illinois. Johnson then went to The Ritz-Carlton Chicago Hotel, where he received the invaluable guidance from Chef Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F., co-founder and dean of The French Pastry School, as well as Chef En-Ming Hsu, World Pastry Champion. He was inspired to move to New York and work at Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro. Johnson then returned to the Midwest as Executive Pastry Chef for Everest, then rejoined Ambrosia Euro-America Pâtisserie.
Josh Johnson’s next venture lead him to co-owning Cocoa Bean Fine Desserts in Geneva, Illinois. He was then brought on as a pastry chef instructor at The French Pastry School of Chicago. Chef Johnson competed in and won the National Pastry Team Championship with team captain Donald Wressell and fellow French Pastry School instructors, Scott Green and Della Gossett. The team went on to win Best Dégustation and Silver Medal overall at the 2012 World Pastry Championship in Las Vegas.
Executive Pastry Chef, Daniel, New York, NY
Any great pastry chef knows that baking is as much an accurate science as it is a creative endeavor. Fortunately, DANIEL Executive Pastry Chef Ghaya F. Oliveira has talent to spare in both areas. Ghaya’s first career was not in the kitchen, but as a stock trader in her native Tunisia, but after moving to the United States in 1998, she chose to pursue creative challenges in the kitchen rather than on the trading floor.
Upon graduating from the Culinary Academy and then earning a degree in Restaurant Management from the French Culinary Institute, Ghaya joined Café Boulud in New York in 2001. As a pastry commis under Executive Pastry Chef Remy Funfrock, Ghaya learned the importance of precision and refined her technique. At Café Boulud, Ghaya was promoted on several occasions, first to Pastry Cook, then to Pastry Sous Chef. She continued to learn from Chef Funfrock, as well as Daniel Boulud’s Corporate Pastry Chef Eric Bertoia. She credits the latter with teaching her to cook fruit with delicacy, care and respect for their natural flavors. “I slowly worked my way up,” says Ghaya. “Time didn’t matter because I was so hungry to learn.”
When Chef Daniel Boulud opened Bar Boulud in 2007, he called upon Ghaya to become Executive Pastry Chef. Responsible for menu development and sourcing ingredients, Ghaya used the local farmers’ markets as inspiration. When neighboring Boulud Sud opened in May 2011, Ghaya’s sheer talent and ambition led Boulud to make her the Executive Pastry Chef there, too. At Boulud Sud she debuted her Grapefruit Givré, a whimsical dessert—a frozen grapefruit filled with grapefruit sorbet, fresh grapefruit jam, sesame crumble and sesame foam and rose water loukoum, topped with halva ‘hair’—that received countless press accolades and praises from diners.
“Working for Daniel means always reaching for the best,” she says. “It’s knowing how to be classic and modern at the same time.” Her professional approach and talent were recognized by the James Beard Foundation with a 2012 nomination for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.”
In July 2013, Ghaya took over the Executive Pastry Chef position at Chef Daniel Boulud’s flagship DANIEL. She brings traditional French pastry training, a refined palate, and unexpected flavor combinations, juxtaposed with a sense of playfulness; but above all, she brings an unwavering desire to delight.
Ecole du Grand Chocolate Pastry Chef Western USA, Valrhona USA
Derek Poirier brings his experience and skills honed in the top hotels of the U.S. and Canada to his work with the French chocolate maker Valrhona. He teaches and conducts demonstrations in restaurants, hotels and culinary schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. He also develops recipes and teaches master classes attended by an international array of pastry chefs who travel to Valrhona’s famed L’Ecole du Grand Chocolat located in Tain l’Hermitage in the wine region of France’s Rhone Valley. He has represented the U.S. and Canada in world pastry competitions, including in 2003 and 2005, as a member of Team USA at the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie in Lyon, France, which brings together top pastry chefs from 22 countries. He also advised the Team USA chefs who were training for the 2009 and 2011 competition. A native of Vancouver, BC, Chef Poirier currently makes his home in Arizona.
Master Pastry Chef, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Chef Rudolf “Rudi” Weider’s impressive pastry career spans more than 40 years, with highlights including baking for President George H. W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan. Weider began his education in 1972 at Confiserie and Patisserie in Buskens, Germany), followed by training at the Master School of Pastry (Wolfenbuttel, Germany), and the Institute of Sugar Art (Dusseldorf, Germany) where Chef Weider honed his passion for sweets. In 1975, Weider embarked on his career in hospitality and has worked in more than eight countries including Egypt, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and currently in the United States, as Master Pastry Chef at Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Weider has won numerous prestigious awards including Gold Medal, Beringer Chefs Table; Silver Medal, Individual Pastry Display, Salon of Culinary Arts; and Best Dessert, National Pastry Team Competition.
Executive Pastry Chef, Lafayette, New York, NY
Pastry Chef Jennifer Yee began her culinary training at the prestigious Cordon Bleu in London. Upon graduating, she trained at Gordon Ramsey’s The Connaught, followed by a position with Stephane Sucheta’s opening team at Yauatcha in the Soho section of London.
In 2006, Yee returned to the U.S. to become a pastry sous chef at Gilt restaurant at the ultra-luxe Palace Hotel in New York, where she took ownership of the chocolate program. In 2010, she went on to become Charlie Palmer’s Pastry Chef at Aureole, where she was awarded that year’s Rising Star Pastry Chef award, and then on to the Michelin-starred SHO, Shaun Hergatt downtown.
Yee’s talents has been featured in the international Art Culinaire, Food Arts Magazine, and Saveur Magazine, among other publications.
Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP)
This year’s Hall of Fame Honorée is Richard Grausman, Founder & Chairman of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). He is one of America’s most respected culinary educators, author of French Classics Made Easy and the former U.S. representative for Le Cordon Bleu de Paris. Through his vision and leadership C-CAP has emerged as a national model for enriching public school culinary arts programs. Over the past 24 years C-CAP has awarded more than $43 million in scholarships and transformed the lives of thousands of young people. In 1997, Grausman was awarded The President’s Service Award, the highest recognition given by the White House for volunteer service. In 1998 the French government honored Richard with the title of Officier du Mérite Agricole, and in 2003 he received the James Beard Humanitarian Award.