Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America 2012

Sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment. Last night, Dessert Professional presented the 19th annual Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America awards. This ain’t no Oscars, where you sit back and clap; you get to eat all the creations. Since they’re overachievers, some chefs presented more than half a dozen desserts. It was enough to make the biggest sweet tooth go rabid.

Indeed, that happened. Guests crowded around a server carrying savory food, toppling h’ordeuvres over the poor guy. This was my version of a wild night. And I’m thankful some familiar faces joined in the debauchery: Robyn and Max from Serious Eats (two sweet people), fellow dessert nerd Niko from Dessert Buzz, Kempie from Gourmet Live, Melissa from The Spatula Queen, and Kirsten from the Food Network.

Here’s tasting below (several desserts were so complicated they were only known by their components). Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Marc Aumont, The Modern, NYC

The pistachio cake with milk chocolate layers was an architectural wonder, each layer giving way to contrasting textures.

The citrus(?) “boats” with cream and crispy shells offered a tart contrast to other rich desserts. The space-age caramel verrines in the back faded in my memory. Too “ordinary.” Ha!

Aumont’s assistant has a death-grip handshake.

Sally Camacho, WP24, Los Angeles

A complicated contraption of sorbet, cookie crumbs, chocolate cream, and mango-passionfruit jelly, and lychee-passionfruit sorbet

Craig Harzewski, Naha, Chicago, IL

Milk chocolate complexite, molten milk chocolate beignets, pinot noir, and cocoa.

Nathaniel Reid, Norman Love Confections, Naples, FL

Petit pastries

Sandro Micheli, Daniel, NYC

Deceptively simply looking, this almond dacquoise, milk chocolate parfait, salted caramel tuile was my favorite. It struck the right balance of textures and flavors.

Chris Hanmer, The School of Pastry Design, Las Vegas

Refreshing tapioca, pineapple confit, lime, passion and mango cremeux, and lime coconut creme. Complete with a syringe.

Angela Pinkerton, Eleven Madison Park, NYC

Lavendar meringue with cocoa sorbet and orange

Damien Herrgott, Bosie Tea Parlor, NYC

Mini pastries infused with tea and macarons

Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC

Tosi’s desserts are satisfying the way bar food is: fiendish and salty. The pretzel and chocolate chip cake truffles overpowered me last night, but they’re suited for a late-night snack.

The 10th chef, whom I sadly have no pictures of, is Jean-Marie Auboine of Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier, Las Vegas.

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  1. Jeff Kingman said,

    Great evening. Sorry we didn’t connect. I didn’t get to try everything, but Sally Camacho and Chris Hanmer killed me. I think I had 6 or 7 of Chris’s concoction. Feel free to connect anytime.

    Jeff Kingman
    Chief of Staff

    June 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  2. Britt Wagner said,

    This looks amazing. So glad you got to experience it! 🙂

    June 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm