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Virtual Stirring the Pot Jacques Torres, hosted and interviewed by Florence Fabricant
Join Florence and famed Pastry Chef Jacques Torres, also known as Mr. Chocolate, as they discuss his empire of sweet temptations. An audience Q&A will follow.
Fondly referred to as Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres is the authority on all things related to this confectionery delight. His story begins in the South of France in a small town on the Mediterranean Sea in the southern region of Provence called Bandol. At an early age, Jacques was inspired to start a culinary career and was enraptured with pastry making. He began his apprenticeship when he was 15 years old at the best pastry shop in Bandol. With passion and dedication, three years later in 1980, landed a job with Two-star Michelin Chef Jacques Maximin at the Hotel Negresco in Nice, France. Jacques eventually became the Executive Pastry Chef and for 8 years this opportunity took him around the globe. In 1986, Jacques was awarded the prestigious M.O.F. (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) medal in Pastry. He was (and still is) the youngest pastry chef in history to earn the distinction; he was only 26 years old.
In 1988, he ventured to the U.S. as the Corporate Pastry Chef for Ritz Carlton Hotels and was headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1989, the legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni invited Jacques to New York City to work at his world famous restaurant, Le Cirque, as the Executive Pastry Chef. For 11 years, Jacques served his cutting edge, magical and memorable desserts to presidents, kings, and celebrities at the iconic restaurant.
Through his early years as a pastry chef, Jacques developed a deep affinity and love for chocolate. He fulfilled his American dream in 2000 with the opening of his first chocolate store and factory, “Jacques Torres Chocolate” in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Jacques was a pioneer in the bean to bar movement, he was the first artisan chocolatier in New York City to start from cocoa beans and make his own chocolate. Jacques and his chocolate became an instant success attracting fans from all over the country. In 2004, he opened his second chocolate factory and flagship store, in the SOHO neighborhood of New York City on Hudson Street. The demand for his confections grew rapidly, so he opened more stores throughout Manhattan including ice cream locations. In 2013, Jacques moved his two production facilities (from DUMBO and SOHO) to one state-of-the-art 40,000 sq. ft. chocolate manufacturing plant at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There are 7 retail locations throughout New York City.
Jacques prides himself on specializing in fresh, handcrafted chocolates using premium ingredients free of preservatives and artificial flavors. From sourcing the perfect cacao beans to techniques steeped in tradition, Jacques combines genuine passion with handcrafted mastery to produce purely delicious, real chocolate. His motto is “Real is my promise to you.”
During his time at Le Cirque, Jacques released a 52 episode Public Television series, Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres, along with two companion cookbooks, Dessert Circus: Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make At Home (William Morrow), and Dessert Circus At Home (William Morrow). He also hosted a television series, Chocolate with Jacques Torres, on the Food Network for three years. In 2008, he released his third cookbook, A Year in Chocolate (Stewart, Tabori and Chang). In March 2018, Netflix released worldwide to 190 countries a baking competition show, “Nailed It!” which Jacques is the featured Head Judge on the internationally successful series. In 2019, the show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Competition Program.
Jacques opened New York City’s first chocolate museum called “Choco-Story New York, Chocolate Museum and Experience with Jacques Torres.” The 5,000 sq. ft. museum was located at his flagship store (350 Hudson St.).
Additionally, since 1993 Jacques proudly serves as Dean of Pastry Arts at the award-winning International Culinary Center. He designed the curriculum of the fast-track Professional Pastry Arts program and offers internship opportunities to ICC pastry students.
He has received numerous awards over the years as well as The James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year Award in 1994, and inducted in The James Beard Who’s Who of American Food & Beverage Award in 2003. In 2016, Dessert Professional Magazine inducted him in the Chocolate Hall of Fame and also the same year was awarded the highest honor in France, The Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.
Jacques generously donates his products and time to many local and national charity organizations including The Jacques Pepin Foundation, Citymeals on Wheels, Wellness in the Schools, Sloan Kettering Pediatric Hospital, March of Dimes, Make a Wish Foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and numerous charity driven food festivals. He loves children and dedicates himself to causes that support their well-being and happiness.
Jacques makes his home in New York City, and is married to Hasty Torres, a fellow chocolatier, who founded her own chocolate business in Beverly Hills called Madame Chocolat. Their son, Pierre, was born in 2016 and their daughter, Jacqueline, was born in 2019.