Jacques Torres grew up in Bandol, France, a small town in the southern region of Provence. By the time he was 15, he decided to try the world of baking. During his next vacation, he began an apprenticeship at La Frangipan, a small pastry shop in his home town. 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. A relationship grew from this encounter that would last eight years and take him around the globe. During this time with the Hotel Negresco he worked on refining his skills and nurtured his intuitive sense of confectionery artistry.
1980-1983, he was back to school on his days off to earn the dress of Master Pastry Chef. Then he taught pastry at a local culinary school in Cannes from 1983-1986. Always using the time to enhance his abilities, he honed his skill in preparation for the infamous Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) competition. In 1986, Jacques was awarded the prestigious MOF medal and became the youngest chef to earn this distinction.
In 1989, the legendary Sirio Maccioni invited Jacques to work at New York's most famous restaurant, Le Cirque. He used a $100,000 custom-built pastry kitchen to entice Jacques (it worked). During the past six years, Jacques has served presidents, kings and celebrities in his everyday work at Le Cirque. He donates his time to many national charity organizations such as the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, God+'s 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.
His list of achievements during the past six years includes participation in -"Merci" Julia the world's top culinary professionals' salute to Julia Child; Julia Child's Master Chefs television series; James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year; Pierre Franey's birthday celebrations; Chefs of America Pastry 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 Queen Elizabeth II.
Some of Jacques' culinary awards and achievements include consulting and product development for Cointreau and Valrhona; participation in the rededication ceremonies for the Stature of Liberty honoring French President Francois Mitterand and United States President Ronald Reagan; Le Figaro's Culinary Cruise; recipient 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 many other competitions and culinary events in France.
Jacques Torres was nice enough to talk with Fabulous Foods from his pastry kitchen at New York's famous Le Cirque 2000 restaurant.