Jacques Torres grew up in Bandol, France, a small town in the southern region of Provence. At age 15, he decided to try the world of baking. During his next vacation, he began an apprenticeship at La Frangipane, a small pastry shop in his hometown. After two years, he completed his apprenticeship requirements and graduated first in his class. He continued his practice in La Cadiere d'Azur while waiting for his obligatory year of military time.
In 1980 on a bet with a friend, he approached the Michelin two-star chef Jacques Maximin at the Hotel Negresco and innocently inquired for a job. Maximin gave him an hour to return to work with a chef's coat and start a relationship that would last 8 years and take him around the globe. At the Hotel Negresco, he refined his skills and nurtured his intuitive sense of confectionery artistry.
From 1980-1983, he went back to school on his days off to earn the degree of Master Pastry Chef. He taught pastry at a local culinary school in Cannes from 1983-1986. During these years, he was also honing his skill in preparation for the infamous Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition. In 1986, Jacques was awarded with the prestigious M.O.F. medal, the youngest chef to earn the distinction.
The list of Jacques' culinary awards and achievements during that time included consulting and product development for Cointreau and Valrhona; participation in the rededication ceremonies for the Statue of Liberty honoring French President, Francois Mitterand and United States President, Ronald Reagan; Le Figaro's Culinary Cruise through the countries of the Mediterranean; receipt of the gold medal of the Japanese Pastry Chef Association; winner of the 1986 French Championship of Desserts; culinary weeks in Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Spain; as well as participation in numerous competitions and culinary events in France.
In 1988, the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company petitioned Jacques to the United States as Corporate Pastry Chef. He launched the opening of their hotel in Palm Springs and, later that year, transferred to the corporate headquarters in Atlanta.
In 1989, the legendary Sirio Maccioni invited Jacques to work at New York's most famous restaurant, Le Cirque. He enticed him with a custom-built pastry kitchen. Then, in 1997, Sirio moved the restaurant to its current location and created Le Cirque 2000. During the past 11 years, Jacques has served presidents, kings, and celebrities in his every day work at Le Cirque. He has also enjoyed many honors and awards, judged competitions and participated in culinary events. He serves as Dean of Pastry Studies at New York's French Culinary Institute. He opened his pastry kitchen at Le Cirque to aspiring students and shared his passion for the art of pastry. He is dedicated to providing a training ground for the future professionals of the field works diligently to further the causes of his profession.
Jacques continues to appear in newspapers, magazines and trade press. He frequently makes television guest appearances on NBC's Today Show, Martha Stewart and Later Today, various shows on TV Food Network, and public television programs. His list of achievements include participation in "Merci Julia" - the world's top culinary professionals salute Julia Child; Julia Child's Master Chefs television series; James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year; Pierre Franey's Birthday Celebrations; Chef's of America Pastry Chef of the Year; Chocolatier Magazine's 10 Best Pastry Chefs; The Masters of Food & Wine; Chartreuse Pastry Chef Award; member of Academie Culinaire de France; and Cunard's Culinary Crossing on the QE2.
Jacques also hosted his television series "Chocolate with Jacques Torres" on the Food Network. He is also host of "Passion for Chocolate with Jacques Torres" and "Passion for Pastry with Jacques Torres." He hosts "Decadent Desserts with Jacques Torres" a December holiday special and "Easter Sweets with Jacques Torres," an Easter special, both made for Food Network. In January 1998, 52 episodes of an internationally broadcast public television series, Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres, premiered. Jacques is the author of two cookbooks, "Dessert Circus, Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make At Home" (published by William Morrow and nominated for a 1999 James Beard award) and "Dessert Circus At Home" (it received the 1999 ICR World Cookbook award). He is currently at work on another television series, a book on chocolate for fall 2007 and other television projects.
The new millennium brought Jacques to another adventure. In December 2000, Jacques opened his own chocolate factory serving the wholesale and retail markets. Jacques Torres Chocolate specializes in fresh, hand-crafted chocolates that are free of preservatives and artificial flavors. Jacques has given new life to classic recipes. He uses state-of-the-art technology in his custom-designed chocolate factory in Brooklyn, NY. In 2004, Jacques opened Jacques Torres Chocolate at Hudson Square, a Manhattan chocolate factory.
Throughout his career, Mr. Torres has generously donated his time to many national charity organizations such as the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Gods Love We Deliver, New York's Hard of Hearing Association, Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center, the Association to Benefit Children and many others.
He serves as Dean of Pastry Studies at New York's French Culinary Institute. He has also opened his pastry kitchen at Le Cirque to aspiring students and shared his passion for the art of pastry. He is dedicated to providing a training ground for the future professionals of the field works diligently to further the causes of his profession.
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