Chef François Payard is a third generation French pastry chef born on July 16, 1966 in Nice, France. He cultivated his passion for the art of pâtisserie as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop, “Au Nid des Friandises” on the French Riviera. After honing his classic pastry skills by his family side, Payard moved to Paris where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations whose taste, textures, and originality opened new horizons in his career. His dedication earned him positions in France’s finest kitchens including “La Tour d’Argent” and Great Chef Alain Senderens “Lucas Carton”.
In 1990 he moved to New York to work as pastry chef under Gilbert Le Coze and Great Chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin. Great Chefs was filming Chef Eric Ripert in 1993, and asked Le Coze about doing a Payard dessert. He declined because he was leaving to help open Daniel Boulud’s new Daniel Restaurant. The next day, Great Chefs was filming Chef Daniel Boulud, before the Grand Opening, but François Payard was not around. In 1995, the James Beard Foundation named Payard “Pastry Chef of the Year”.
In 1997, François’ childhood dream of opening his own restaurant became a reality when he opened Payard Pâtisserie and Bistro on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and later he opened branches in Las Vegas, Japan, Korea and Brazil. Great Chefs caught up with François in 2000 at his east side bistro to tape four desserts for its Great Chefs of America series: a Chocolate Pudding Cake (episode # 191); a Warm Chocolate Tart (episode # 205); a Lemon Tart (episode # 208), and a Chocolate Coconut Cake (episode # 216).
That establishment closed its doors in 2009 after losing its lease. But that didn’t stop Chef François, as later that year he opened François Chocolate Bar at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and in 2010, he opened François Payard Bakery. Most recently, Chef Payard has opened his flagship FP Pâtisserie, a bakery and tea salon on New York City’s Upper East Side.
Chef François Payard’s achievements have been widely recognized, including being honored with the prestigious “Ordre du Merite Agricole” by the French Government.