Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres Biography.com

Chef(1960–)
Pastry chef Jacques Torres is best known for his mastery of cooking and baking with chocolate. He is often referred to as "Mr. Chocolate" and owns seven chocolate shops.

Synopsis

Jacques Torres was born in Algiers, Algeria in 1960, and moved shortly thereafter to France, where he took up the art of baking. He excelled at his culinary studies and at his employment as a chef, moved to New York, and went on to become a world-renowned pastry chef and chocolatier.

Early Life

Before he became a renowned master pastry chef known as "Mr. Chocolate," Jacques Torres was born in Algiers, Algeria, and moved to Bandol, a fishing village in the South of France. He took up baking at age 15, when he began an apprenticeship at a small pastry shop. Within two years, Torres had begun to master his baking skills.

Culinary Career

In his early 20s, Torres met two-star Michelin chef Jacques Maximin and began working with him at the Hotel Negresco, a leading hotel on the French Riviera. Although he had only his apprenticeship as prior experience, Torres was able to land that job as a result of his love for food and for making people happy. He considered himself a craftsman, and apparently, so did Maximin. The two forged a relationship that lasted eight years and took Torres around the world.

Although Torres was working regularly as a chef, he found time to attend culinary school and earn a master pastry chef degree. He also taught pastry courses at a culinary school in Cannes, France, from 1983 to 1986, which was the year he earned the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France ("Best Craftsman of France"), becoming the youngest chef to earn the distinction. For the award's bestowal, Torres credits his MOF coach, Lou Lou Franchain, for serving as a role model and inspiring him. Others who have served as sources of inspiration to Torres include Frank Mars of M&M Mars and Leonardo da Vinci.

Two years after earning his MOF distinction, as well as a credible reputation, Torres ventured to the United States. He began working as a corporate pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel chain. He was well on his way to pursuing the American Dream, which was his intention from the start. The following year, 1989, afforded Torres the opportunity to meet legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni, who invited the young chef to work at his iconic award-winning French restaurant, Le Cirque—one of New York City's most famous restaurants. Torres went on to work there for 11 years, serving presidents, kings and celebrities.

In 1993, Torres became a member of The French Culinary Institute's faculty. He designed the Classic Pastry Arts Curriculum in 1996, and became the school's Dean of Pastry Arts.

Fame and Fortune

Throughout his career at Le Cirque, Torres released a 52-episode public television series called Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres. He also released three cookbooks, one of which earned a 1999 James Beard Award nomination, and hosted a three-year Food Network series called Chocolate with Jacques Torres.

In 2000, Torres left Le Cirque and opened his own chocolate factory and retail shop in Brooklyn. Eventually, he went on to open seven shops, including two chocolate factories and an ice cream shop. In 2007, he married chocolatier and former employee Hasty Khoei, who owns a chocolate shop called Madame Chocolat in Beverly Hills, California.

Now a famous and world-recognized figure, Torres regularly participates in culinary events, including guest appearances on television shows. In 2010, Torres was among several FCI members who prepared a $30,000-per-couple dinner for U.S. President Barack Obama's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser, which was held at Manhattan's St. Regis Hotel.

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