chef-name: Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres was born in 1959 in Algiers, and grew up in Bandol, a wine & fishing village on the French Rivera in the south of France. In 1974, at age 15, he began his apprenticeship at a small pastry shop and completed his apprenticeship requirements in two years, graduating first in his class. In 1980, he moved down the Rivera to Nice, working with two-star Michelin chef, Jacques Maximum at the Hotel Negresco.

At the same time, Jacques attended culinary school to earn a Master Pastry Chef degree. After graduation, from 1983-1986, he taught pastry classes at the culinary school in Cannes, France. In 1986, he was the youngest person (21) ever to win the Meilleur Ouvrier Pâtissier de France competition.

In 1986, he moved to the United States, where he served as the corporate pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the following year, Sirio Maccioni made him an offer, with a new pastry kitchen, as the executive pastry chef of Le Cirque, position Jacques held for the next 11 years.

On Valentine’s Day, early Sunday morning, February 14, 1999, the Great Chefs Television crew was waiting outside Le Cirque to film Chef Jacques Torres, who had not shown up yet. They had read the entire New York Times, including the magazine section, which featured Chef Torres lying on a satin covered bed with all his Valentine’s Desserts, then decided they had better call Mr. Maccioni to see where chef was? A half-hour later, Chef Jacques and his wife showed up on rollerblades pulled by two of their dogs, and down the ramp to the pastry kitchen. “Only in Manhattan” was the comment of John Beyer, the Great Chefs Director.

Chef Torres prepared three dessert dishes; an Exotic Fruit Soup in a Sugar Cage for their Great Chefs of the East series, (episode #11), a Flourless Chocolate Cake for their Great Chefs – Great Cities series (episode #38), and a Chocolate and Raspberry Fontaine for the PBS special Great Chefs Chocolate Passion.

In 2000, Chef Jacques Torres left Le Cirque to opened his own chocolate factory and retail shop in Brooklyn New York, which he called Team Torres, LLC. He now has two chocolate factories, an ice cream shop, and seven Jacques Torres Chocolate shops in the New York City area.