Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America for 2016.
Each year Dessert Professional Magazine 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 brand new, state-of-the-art Institute of Culinary Education in downtown New York on the evening of June 6, 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 2016, short recaps of their careers, and the recipe for the dessert that each chef served. We also include a profile of Biagio Settepani, owner of Pasticceria Bruno in Staten Island and award-winning pastry chef, who is this year’s Hall of Fame honoree.
- Cedric Barberet
- Morand Dare
- Joseph DiPaolo Jr.
- Kelly Fields
- Scott Green
- Alex Grunert
- Lauren V. Haas
- Franck Iglesias
- Robert Nieto
- Jean-Marc Viallet
- 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee: Biagio Settepani
Executive Pastry Chef and Partner, Barberet Bistro and Bakery, Lancaster, PA
Pastry Chef Cedric Barberet combines his passion for pastry with a sharp eye for detail, creating elaborate cakes and pastries at his relatively new, very successful business, Barberet Bistro and Bakery in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. Barberet believes that the best pâtisserie is achieved by using simple, quality ingredients with the proper balance of traditional and modern techniques. He has over 25 years of professional pastry experience, along with a Master’s Degree in Pastry from Patisserie Chereau in France.
Barberet began his career at the age of 16 working in his parents’ bakery in Villefranche, near Lyon, France. It was here that he uncovered his passion for dessert creation and began to hone his technical skills. In 1995, he moved to the United States to pursue his career aspirations, serving as a pastry chef at several luxury hotel and resorts, including a stint as Executive Pastry Chef at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. While there, Barberet spent two months creating the five-foot-high, seven-tier Grand Marnier chiffon wedding for Trump’s wedding with Marla Maples in 2005. Barberet has also worked at the Las Vegas M Resort Casino & Spa with Executive Pastry Chef Jean Claude Canestrier. In 2009, Barberet joined the prestigious team at Philadelphia’s Le Bec-Fin as the Executive Pastry Chef, and most recently served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Buddakan, also in Philadelphia.
Chef Barberet is a member of Cacao Barry’s international Ambassador Club, an invitation-only group that includes a global membership of more than 100 pastry chefs and chocolatiers from more than 20 countries. As a Cacao Barry Ambassador, he shares his chocolate expertise and unique approach to fine French pastry through demonstrations, recipe creation and other collaborative efforts with chefs in the United States and globally.
In June 2015, Chef Barberet, along with his wife and business partner, Estelle, opened Barberet Bistro and Bakery in Lancaster, PA. The upscale bakery offers an impressive selection of cakes, petits gâteaux, tarts, macarons, truffles and wedding cakes. The bistro offers a casual and affordable French dining experience, including lunch and dinner served Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch service on Sunday. The bakery/bistro concept pays tribute to Barberet’s rich French heritage.
Executive Pastry Chef, New York Hilton Midtown, New York, NY
Morand Dare began his distinguished culinary career almost 50 years ago in his grandfather’s bakery in a small town in eastern France, where he worked until the age of nine. But his first love was music, and he studied piano for three years, hoping one day to be a professional musician. Unfortunately, he was not as talented as he wanted to be, so he decided to pursue a career in pastry, his second love. He did a formal apprenticeship for three years in a pastry shop in the South of France and then received his CAP (certificate d’aptitude professionelle) as well as his Brevet de Compagnon. To hone his chocolate skills, he then studied chocolate work at a technical school in Basel, Switzerland. Dare spent two years as a pastry cook at the famed Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, then moved to London, working at the Royal Garden Hotel, where he eventually earned the title of Executive Pastry Chef.
Throughout the next 30 years, Morand Dare worked as a pastry chef in fine restaurants throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, including the Michelin-two-star Bosh en Duin in Holland, the Hotel Meridien in Paris and the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, Canada. In the late 1990’s he tried his hand at being an entrepreneur, opening Twiggs Café in Lenox, Massachusetts and running it for the next five years. Eventually Chef Dare found a home at the New York Hilton Midtown in 2009. Though he has held this position for several years, Dare constantly challenges himself and his employees to improve every day. “You are only as good as the people under you,” he said. “To succeed you have to challenge the people you work with to make them great…. We have come a long way in pastries in my 50 years, and we need to continue growing.” Chef Dare helps and nurtures his employees as a way to repay those who helped him so much during his career. To this day he is extremely grateful to his own mentors – Madame Haby, Jacques Dierstein, Guy Monnet and Jules Perlia – without whose help he feels he would not have succeeded.
Corporate Pastry Chef, Pinnacle Foods Inc., Parsippany, NJ
Born and raised in New Jersey, Joe DiPaolo is Jersey, through and through. And, like many North Jersey Italians, food is one of his greatest passions. His love of food was born at an early age from watching his grandmothers cooking in their kitchens. At the age of 13, having learned that he loved cooking and, especially, eating, he took a cooking class in middle school; it was there that he realized that food was going to be a huge part of his life. He worked in a bakery as a dishwasher that summer, then for the next few years he worked as a line cook in a local restaurant. One night, the kitchen manager made a strawberry soup with fresh fruit for dessert. Joe was 16 at the time, and it was at that moment that he realized he wanted to become a pastry chef.
After graduating high school, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, majoring in Baking and Pastry Arts. While at the CIA, he interned at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida. Upon graduation in April, 1996, he stayed in New Jersey and worked at the Hilton at Short Hills. There he prepared pastries for the Dining Room restaurant, New Jersey’s only five diamond restaurant at the time. After three years at Short Hills, an opportunity presented itself to travel to Matsumoto, Japan to work as the Pastry Chef of Sweet Foods. While in Japan, he had to rework a lot of his formulas, as the ingredients were so different from American ones, and this is where his love of baking science was born.
After leaving Japan, he worked as a research and development pastry chef for M&M Mars chocolate company, concentrating on new products in chocolate and sugar. He then traveled to Atlanta, where he worked in a private restaurant which then led to his time teaching at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Tucker, Georgia. As a pastry chef instructor, he obtained the title of Certified Executive Pastry Chef from the American Culinary Federation. Researching baking science further during his time teaching led him back to New Jersey and to his current position as Pastry Chef for Duncan Hines. In this role, he is responsible for identifying and incorporating baking trends into the business, creating gold standards for new product innovation pipeline and building consumer-centric activities for the brand. Additionally, Joe serves as a board member of the American Pie Council, where he chairs the education committee, and helps advise the hospitality program at a local community college.
Chef DiPaolo lives in Hackettstown, New Jersey with his wife Linda and their three daughters, Madison, Casey and Lindsey.
Executive Pastry Chef, Besh Restaurant Group, New Orleans, LA
Growing up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Kelly inherited her love for farm-fresh ingredients as well as a passion for cooking and baking. Starting at an early age, Kelly began baking in some of Charleston’s best patisseries and bakeshops. After relocating to New Orleans, she found her calling for pastry and took up baking for iconic New Orleans chef Susan Spicer. It didn’t take her long to realize she needed to push her knowledge of baking and pastry to the next level. She returned home to South Carolina determined to build the foundation she needed to become a great pastry chef. Upon graduation from Johnson & Wales, she returned to New Orleans, worked her way through the ranks and became the pastry chef of Restaurant August under the tutelage of Chef John Besh. It was Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath that would force Kelly to leave her dear New Orleans to take up several years of travel. If there was a silver lining to this horrific experience, it was that this allowed her the chance to pursue the far-flung influences of her career throughout Central Europe to the Middle East and later, the Far East, before finding a home in San Francisco. Kelly staged, consulted and worked at some of San Francisco’s best restaurants and then joined the opening team of Martins West.
Kelly returned to New Orleans armed with the skills accumulated throughout her travels and a drive to make a positive impact on the city that she loves. She has not only continued to develop great relationships with local farmers in an effort to create a more sustainable pastry kitchen, but she has also been a community leader and works closely with the John Besh Foundation as a mentor for Chefs Move! scholarship recipients and for at-risk youth seeking a profession in the hospitality industry. Kelly also recommends candidates that could benefit from culinary scholarships in the New Orleans community. In 2015, Kelly opened Willa Jean Bakery along with Pastry Chef Lisa White of Domenica and Pizza Domenica. She also maintains the position of Executive Pastry Chef of the Besh Restaurant Group.
Kelly has earned significant praise for her work in both local and national publications including Bon Appétit, Saveur, National Geographic and William Sonoma’s Taste magazine among others. In 2015, Willa Jean earned Louisiana Cookin’s “Bakery and Beyond” award and made Travel + Leisure’s list of its favorite bakeries around the world. Southern Living recently named Kelly one of their “Southern kitchen magicians” in its 50th anniversary issue in February, 2016.
Executive Pastry Chef, The Langham, Chicago & Travelle Kitchen + Bar
Award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Scott Green joined The Langham, Chicago and Travelle Kitchen + Bar from The French Pastry School, where he served as a Pastry Chef Instructor. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of California in San Francisco, and that focus carries through to what he presents to guests on the plate. “My background in art and design has completely shaped the aesthetics of my desserts,” Green says. “I approach the flavors and composition of a dessert as a form of art.” His work combines strong technique with seasonal ingredients for an end to a meal that is both beautiful and complementary to the courses preceding. Further expanding upon his experience, Chef Green recently launched Devil’s Food Kitchen, a pastry and baking blog that shares recipes, techniques and trouble-shooting for amateurs and professionals alike.
A seasoned pastry chef, Green’s career prior to teaching spans several states and renowned establishments, including: the Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad, California; the Park Hyatt hotel in Chicago, Illinois; Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Cleveland, Ohio; The Mid-America Club in Chicago, Illinois; and Rolf’s Pâtisserie in Lincolnwood, Illinois. After nearly a decade in the industry, Chef Green returned to his alma mater, The French Pastry School, as a Chef Instructor teaching in both L’Art de la Pâtisserie and L’Art du Gâteau culinary programs.
Chef Green has won several awards, including a Bronze Medal in the Food Network Challenge series Pastry Daredevils. He won the Gold Medal in Dégustation and the Gold Medal overall at the 2011 National Pastry Team Championship. In 2012, he was awarded the Gold Medal in Dégustation and Silver Medal overall at the 2012 World Pastry Championship in Las Vegas. In 2015, he was a member of the U.S. Team that achieved the Bronze Medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, the world’s most esteemed pastry competition, becoming the first U.S. team to reach the podium in a decade.
Pastry Chef, Brooklyn Fare Market, New York, NY
Born in Vienna, Austria, Alex Grunert began his career in 1989 at the prestigious Vier Jahreszeiten Restaurant in the Inter-Continental Hotel, where he rose to the position of Demi Chef Patissier. Chef Grunert then accepted a position as Chef de Partie of the chocolate department at the renowned Viennese pastry shop Oberlaa Konditorei, where he trained under master Pastry Chef Karl Schuhmacher. Chef Grunert’s experience at Oberlaa Konditorei inspired the high level of finesse and artistry that characterizes his unique style today.
In 1999 Chef Grunert moved to New York City, where he accepted a position as Pastry Line Cook at David Bouley’s restaurant Danube. Eventually he worked his way up to the position of Executive Pastry Chef of both Danube and Bouley. During this time Chef Grunert was also responsible for the production of pastries and desserts for the Bouley Bakery retail shop.
In 2008, in a “new and exciting” move, Chef Alex Grunert joined the team of Blue Hill at Stone Barns as Pastry Chef. For the first time in his career, he created desserts from ingredients that were harvested on-site at the Stone Barns Center farm. Whether picking his own berries or sitting with a farmer to discuss the potential for maximizing fruit flavors, Grunert’s proximity to the land provided a new path for his creations.
In 2013, Grunert began working with Brooklyn Fare Market, overseeing a pastry team of four. With two markets (and soon to be three) to stock with fresh baked goods, the team is dedicated to producing fresh, inspired pastries and desserts round-the-clock. Every morning, they prepare freshly baked breakfast items to stock the display cases, including scones, muffins, and almond croissants. They then turn their attention to preparing and filling dessert items for catering orders as well as the bakery case, such as macarons, chocolates, petits fours, as well as special-order cakes.
Grunert has traveled extensively in Europe and Asia to broaden his knowledge of the pastry arts, including studying at the prestigious Tsuji Culinary Institute in Japan. The result is a pastry making style that is refined and highly creative. He juxtaposes global flavors in unexpected combinations resulting in exciting, yet perfectly balanced creations. Incredibly passionate about all things pastry, Chef Grunert’s first love in the culinary world is to create cakes, from simple, artistic ones to elaborate wedding cakes. Grunert feels that cakes should not only look good, but their flavors and textures must speak for themselves.
Chef Grunert’s long-term goal is to have those customers smiling in his very own Viennese coffee and pastry shop. He is also interested in being a teacher to the next generation of pastry chefs. He hopes to get started on both of these plans in the next few years.
Department Chair, International Baking and Pastry Institute, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI
Lauren Haas is a department chair for the International Baking and Pastry Institute at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to her role at Johnson & Wales, Lauren is a Cacao Barry Ambassador and works with John E. Koerner & Co. as the U.S.A. technical advisor for Sosa Ingredients and 100% Chef.
Prior to joining Johnson & Wales, Lauren honed her skills at some of the country’s most esteemed establishments, most notably the White House, under then-president George W. Bush, as well as Albert Uster Imports, the Hotel du Pont, the Inn at Little Washington, and CoCo Sala, a boutique chocolate lounge in Washington D.C. Her work has been featured in So Good magazine, American Cake Decorating magazine, and a variety of other publications.
Well versed in the foundations of classical pastry and emerging techniques and trends, Lauren’s passion is educating students and pastry professionals in the art and science of pastry.
Executive Pastry Chef, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT
Born in Argenteuil, France, just north of Paris, Franck Iglesias was raised in the food and restaurant business. While his mother cooked traditional French specialties at home, his father worked as a restaurant chef.
At the age of 16 he entered Andorra Culinary School in the eastern Pyranees mountains, where spent two years learning the basics of French cuisine. Upon graduating, he moved to Perpignan in southwestern France to begin a two year program to study and learn the art of pastry making.
After many years of working as both a cook and pastry chef in restaurants throughout France and Spain, Iglesias made the life changing decision to move to the United States. In 2000, he began work as a pastry chef at Patisserie Mirabelle in Old Saybrook, CT.
After two years he decided to make yet another move, and enhance his culinary skills in New York City. In 2002, Franck was honored with a job offer from the esteemed Francois Payard at his Upper East Side Payard Patisserie & Bistro. During that time, Franck’s creative work has been published in Food & Wine, Gourmet, Art Culinaire and Modern Bride magazines.
In the winter of 2009, a quest for new challenges brought Franck to Foxwoods Resort Casino and the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, where he is the Executive Pastry Chef, overseeing a staff of 40 and servicing 34 food outlets. In March of 2016, Foxwoods and Franck partnered to open Cake by Franck, a retail pastry shop offering American and French classics with a twist.
Pastry Chef, Jackson Family Wines, Santa Rosa, CA
A proud Texan, Robert Nieto earned his cooking and baking certificate from Del Mar Community College in Corpus Christi. He began his career as a line cook at Corpus Christi Country Club, but quickly found his passion was creating desserts. He trained with the pastry chef to learn the fundamentals of pastries and baking. From here, Robert moved west to Las Vegas for further challenges and training. In Las Vegas, he worked at several five-star hotels: the Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas and the Venetian as a Pastry Cook and Pastry Sous Chef. Robert finally got his break by being hired as Pastry Sous Chef at world renowned Chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Las Vegas. Furthering his career, Robert was given the opportunity to move to the Napa Valley as the Pastry Chef of Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Seeking other challenges, he moved to Sonoma County to work at the Michelin-starred Madrona Manor as the Pastry Chef in 2010, where he continued experimenting and improving his skills.
Robert joined Jackson Family Wines (where he is affectionately known as “Chef Buttercup”) in 2012. Here he has developed an innovative bread and pastry program that complements the many diverse Kendall Jackson wines. This is challenging, as the wines have subtle differences that require custom pairing. Many of Robert’s desserts are inspired by the famous Estate gardens at Kendall Jackson Winery where he integrates the herbs, spices and fruit to enhance his creations.
Over the years, Robert has taken every available opportunity to acquire expertise and hone his creative skills. Even while on vacation Robert enjoys learning. Once, in Greece, he stopped by a bakery and began asking about their pastries. The baker spoke very limited English and Robert spoke no Greek. Robert pointed to the pastry he was curious about and mimed his question. The two of them disappeared into the kitchen where they spent an hour working side by side with the baker showing Robert the recipes and techniques. Robert emerged elated – it was the highlight of his vacation.
Always enjoying competitions, Robert was selected in 2013 for tryouts by Bread Bakers Guild of America to compete in Viennoiserie and Artistic Design. In 2015, he competed at Pastry Live in Chocolate Bonbons, Plated Dessert and Championship Showpiece. He had the privilege of being selected as a finalist for the Valrhona 2015 Chocolate Chef Competition (C3). Recently, he was selected as an assistant to the USA Pastry Team. In 2017, at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France, the USA team will compete against other international chefs for the title.
In competition and at work, Robert is constantly challenging himself to improve and create new and different desserts. He has attended classes in chocolate and sugar sculpture, Viennoiserie, candies, wine education, and bread (to name a few). Over the years he has continued to push himself at work, at pastry and bread competitions and in areas outside of work, as well. In 2013, Robert completed a grueling Ironman competition in Lake Tahoe, California. Robert’s catch phrase and general philosophy in life is, no matter what you are doing to always strive to “have a sweet day!”
Executive Pastry Chef, Disneyland Resort Central Bakery
Born in Tremblay, France, Chef Jean-Marc Viallet still remembers his mother’s “gooey chocolate cake” as one of his favorite childhood memories. He said he remembers helping her in the kitchen in Paris when he was just eight years old, and he started culinary school and working in a pastry shop at age 16. Viallet attended Ferrandi, the French School of Culinary Arts in Paris, graduating with specialties in baking and pastry confectionary. He was inducted into the Académie Culinare de France, won a Silver medal from the American Culinary Federation in Dallas, Texas, and has been a judge of many national and regional pastry competitions.
Jean-Marc’s career has taken him around the globe as a chef for 40 years, and as part of the Disneyland culinary team since 1999. His career in the United States has included the Meridien Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel, both in Newport Beach, California; the Hyatt Regency in Dallas; Atlanta Hilton & Towers; Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, and the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, California.
For Disneyland Resort, Chef Viallet’s very first sweet for the theme park was a Mickey cookie – and the rest is history, as that cookie was the springboard to a job that includes design, development and production of 90 percent of the desserts and baked foods at the Disneyland Resort. He and his team use more than 90,000 pounds of flour, 80,000 pounds of sugar, 80,000 pounds of chocolate, 165,000 fresh eggs and 66,000 pounds of fresh butter to create the sweets that Disney guests love. His favorite dessert is “anything chocolate, with creamy and crunchy textures.” And Viallet said he most enjoys creating, organizing and teaching his team in the 10,000-square-foot, eco-friendly Disneyland Resort Central Bakery.
Viallet describes his style as “innovative, focusing on taste, being visually attractive and avant-garde, but in the storyline, as Disney is all about storytelling.” He says that his biggest inspirations are Pastry Chefs Yves Thuries and Gabriel Paillason – both have achieved Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest honor in France for an artisan.
He says that if he wasn’t a chef he’d be an actor or singer – but for now he lets his delicious sweets play the starring role at the Disneyland Resort.
Biagio Settepani began his career at the age of 13 in a small pastry shop in Brooklyn, New York. He spent the next few years soaking up all the pastry knowledge that he could. At the age of 21, Biagio took over the reins of Bruno Bakery, a well-known bakery/café in downtown Manhattan. Since then, his dedication to excellence has taken him around the world in search of knowledge. He has competed nationally and internationally for over a decade, earning several medals and various accolades. In 2001, Biagio became a Certified Master Baker (C.M.B.). Today, together with his family, he runs a bakery/cafe in Staten Island, yet still finds time to share his knowledge with the new generation of pastry chefs by teaching at various schools throughout the country.
1997 Gold Medal – Societé Culinaire Philanthropique – Salon Culinaire – Pastry Art Confection
1997 First Place “Cake of the Century“ competition, Plaza Hotel, New York City
1998 Gold Medal – Societé Culinaire Philanthropique, pastry competition
1999 Gold Medal – Societé Culinaire Philanthropique, Salon Culinaire – Prize of Honor
1999 1st place in taste – 10th U.S. Pastry Competition
2000 1st place, Ville de Paris Gold Medal, Salon Culinaire, New York City
*Grand Prize Du Salon – Silver Medal of the French Government, Societé Culinaire Philanthropique
*Captain National Pastry Team, Las Vegas, Nevada, Team Settepani, 4th place overall, Best Chocolate Showpiece and Team Spirit Award
2001 CMB certification, Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York
*Member Staten Island Culinary Team – Gold Medal/Silver Medal/Bronze medal; International Wacs competition, Massa Carrara /Italy – Second Place /Silver Medal overall competition.
2006 Johnson & Wales University, Distinguished Chef Award
2006 ACF Northeastern Region Pastry Chef of the Year, Toronto, Canada
2006 Head Judge for 2nd National Bread & Pastry Team Competition, Atlantic City, New Jersey
2007 Liaison/assistant to the Italian Team for 2006 International Pastry Team Competition, Phoenix, Arizona
2007 Judge for chocolate confection competition, Rimini, Italy
2007 Liaison/assistant to the Italian team at Nashville World Pastry Team Competition
2007 Elected President of the New York State Bakers Association
2008 Named ‘Retail Bakery of the Year’ by Modern Baking magazine
2008 Elected as a honorary member of Associazione Maestri Pasticceri Italiani, Verona, Italy
2009 Food Network ‘Sugar Adventures’ Challenge, Gold Medal winner
2009 Special Award at MIG (Mostra Internazionale del Gelato Artgianale), Longarone, Italy
2010 Liaison/Assistant to the Italian team in Phoenix, Arizona, World Pastry Team Championship
2010 Winner of Cannoli Throwdown with Bobby Flay
2012 Pastry Chef of the Year at the WPTC, Las Vegas, Nevada
2014 Sigep nomina “Ambasciatore” Sigep nel mondo – 35th Salone Internazionale Gelateria
2015 U.S. Pastry Competition – Lifetime Achievement Award