Chef Jacques Torres
One of the world's most famous pastry chefs, Jacques Torres joined The French Culinary Institute faculty in 1993. In 1996, he designed the Classic Pastry Arts curriculum for The FCI and became the program's Dean of Pastry Arts. His work with The FCI students allows him to fulfill his passion for teaching and to give something back to the industry that has afforded him many opportunities.
Chef Torres grew up in Bandol, Provence, France, and at age 15 began his apprenticeship in La Frangipane, a small pastry shop. After two years, he completed apprenticeship requirements, graduating first in his class. He continued to hone his skills in La Cadière d'Azur.
In 1980, on a bet with a friend, he approached two-star chef Jacques Maximin and asked for a position at the Hotel Negresco. Maximin demanded he return in one hour with a chef's coat. Thus began an 8-year relationship that opened many doors for Chef Torres and would take him around the globe. Chef Torres completed another course of study on his days off to become a Master Pastry Chef, and during the period of 1983 to 1986, taught his craft in Cannes. In 1986, he became the youngest chef ever to win the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France Pâtissier (Best Pastry Chef of France) competition.
The list of Chef Torres' culinary awards and achievements during that time include consulting and product development for Cointreau and Valrhona; participation in the rededication ceremonies for the Statue of Liberty honoring President François Mitterand of France and President Ronald Reagan of the United States; Le Figaro's Culinary Cruise through the countries of the Mediterranean; receipt of the gold medal of the Japanese Pastry Chef Association; winner of the 1986 French Championship of Desserts M.O.F. (Meilleur Ouvrier de France); culinary weeks in Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Spain, as well as participation in numerous competitions and culinary events in France.
In 1988, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company hired Chef Torres as corporate pastry chef. A year later, the legendary Sirio Maccioni invited him to join Le Cirque (later, Le Cirque 2000) as Executive Pastry Chef, in a custom-built, state-of-the-art pastry kitchen.
In 2000, Chef Torres opened his own chocolate factory, Jacques Torres Chocolate, located in Brooklyn. He serves the retail, wholesale, and Internet market. His exquisite handmade chocolates are now savored around the world.
In 2004, Chef Torres added to his adventures with a new chocolate factory in New York City. Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven is a factory where cocoa beans are transformed into chocolate bars and the whole process takes place before your very eyes.
Jacques Torres' latest television series, Chocolate with Jacques Torres, airs on Food Network. This is his third series for the network. Chef Torres also hosted the PBS television series, Dessert Circus, which was filmed in The French Culinary Institute's International Culinary Theater and aired in 1998 and 1999. He wrote the series' two companion books, Jacques Torres' Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make at Home (William Morrow, 1998) and Jacques Torres' Dessert Circus at Home (William Morrow, 1999). He contributed to The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking (Rodale, 1998), a compilation of seasonally arranged menus that combine low-fat, health-conscious recipes with classic French techniques.
The numerous awards won by Chef Torres include the James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year, the Chartreuse Pastry Chef award, the Chefs of America Pastry Chef of the Year and membership in the Académie Culinaire de France. In addition to teaching the art of pastry making at The FCI, demonstrating his skills around the world, and creating and selling exquisite chocolates, Chef Torres donates his time to a variety of charity organizations.