Claudia Fleming was born on Long Island, New York and dedicated most of her first twenty-five years to the pursuit of a career in modern dance. She attended the dance conservatory associated with the Hartford Ballet Company where she received her teacher’s certification and training.
When Claudia was twenty-one, she moved to New York City where she spent four years working with a small modern dance company. Like many other artistic-minded folk, she made her way to the restaurant world in the early 1980s to support her career, working in the dining rooms at Jams and Union Square Café. She was immediately attracted to both the theatrical and creative aspects of restaurant work.
During her tenure at Union Square Café, Claudia was a member of the hospitality team and worked at various stations in the kitchen. Claudia gravitated to the kitchen and pastry became her new calling. In 1991, determined to hone her skills, she decided to go directly to the source and study pastry in Paris. After a stint at the prestigious Fauchon, Claudia returned to New York and a new career.
Back in New York City, Claudia delved into pastry making at Montrachet, TriBeCa Grill and Luxe. In 1994 Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio hired Claudia as pastry chef of their new restaurant, Gramercy Tavern – the perfect complement to their new team.
On a cold December morning in 2000, Great Chefs taped Claudia at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, creating two desserts, a triple cream tart and a chocolate ganache cake.
Later, she and her husband Chef Gerry Hayden (formerly of Great Chef Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Amuse), started the Lunch Truck (good food from a truck!) out on Long Island, and shortly thereafter, opened North Fork Table and Inn.
Claudia received the James Beard Foundation’s Hawaiian Vintage Outstanding Pastry Chef for 2000. Pastry Art & Design named her one of their 10 Best Pastry Chefs in 2000, and in 1998 Saveur included Claudia in their esteemed “Saveur 100” list. Her work has been celebrated in publications such as The New York Times, Town & Country, Art Culinaire, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, New York Magazine, Time Out New York and Self. Claudia has been featured on Martha Stewart Living, The Food Network, and Great Chefs Television’s Great Chefs of America series (episodes 201 and 214).