PreGel AMERICA and PreGel’s 5-Star Pastry Series® is excited to present its national 5-Star Ambassador Program. The program represents our ongoing dedication to education and creating positive synergies throughout the pastry industry to ensure that the craft continues to remain strong and flourish.
The goal of the program is to provide pastry chefs across the country real solutions to the challenges faced by our dynamic and changing industry. To successfully accomplish this, we have selected high-level 5-Star Ambassadors that are industry professionals, have versatile talents and achievements, and a strong commitment to the overall elevation of the industry.
Our 5-Star Ambassadors will be providing pastry and frozen dessert demos throughout the year in their designated regions. The program is aimed at pastry chefs looking to learn new techniques, gain valuable tips, try new products and test new recipes.
Take a minute to get to know our current 5-Star Ambassadors and find out more about the demos they will be offering in your region!
With more than 20 years of industry experience, Master Chocolatier and Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Marie Auboine knew by 16 years of age that cooking was his passion. After graduating in 1988 from Lycee Technique Hotelier Quercy at age 18, he served at some of the world's most esteemed restaurants. He began at Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse in Monaco, assisting the famed eatery in earning Michelin's highest honor, Three Stars. Chef Auboine continued his distinguished career at several Michelin-starred restaurants which included One Star Chateau de Mercues in France and Hotel Beau Rivage in Geneva, as well as the highly respected Two Star restaurant-hotel, La Pyramide Vienne in France.
In May 2003, he was named Executive Pastry Chef of the award-winning Presidente Intercontinental Hotel Mexico and was in charge of the resort's six restaurants and 22 banquet rooms, satisfying the palates of some 2,300 hotel guests. A year later, Chef Auboine was promoted to Corporate Pastry Chef and given the added responsibility of Presidente Intercontinental Hotel's seven additional Mexican resorts.
Chef Auboine has also held the prestigious position of Executive Pastry Chef for Fontainebleau Miami Beach where he set impeccable pastry standards for 11 lavish restaurants. The delectable designs he created during his tenure earned him a "Best Dessert" distinction from the Miami New Times in 2009.
In 2009, Chef Jean-Marie Auboine joined the Bellagio AAA Five Diamond resort as the Executive Pastry Chef. In this role, he oversaw the pastry, dessert and chocolate creations for 19 gourmet and casual dining outlets, room service and catering department. Chef Auboine also speaks fluent English, Spanish, Italian and French, which allowed him to effectively communicate with his team of 70 employees, who expertly produced approximately 15,000 pastries each day.Since January 2011, Chef Auboine created Chocolate Solutions LLC for Consulting, Classes and R&D.
Chef Auboine has garnered a remarkable number of notable awards and achievements including his recognition as one of America's Top 10 Pastry Chefs by Dessert Professional Magazine in 2012, Finalist Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier 2011, Finalist Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier 2007, "Best Chef of the Year" from Mexico's Vatel Club in 2008, 5th Place in the 2005 World Chocolate Masters and he was named "Best Pastry Chef of the Year" by France's respected Champerard Guide in 2003. He has also been a member of the prestigious Academie Culinaire de France since 2004. His mastery of chocolate at the 2005 American Chocolate Masters secured him a first place victory and an invitation to participate in the World Chocolate Masters in Paris where he earned the competition's coveted Press Award.
Laurent Branlard is the executive pastry chef for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. A native of France, Laurent Branlard is a highly accomplished pastry chef who holds the distinction as the only two-time winner of the World Pastry Team Championship. He captained Team USA to victory in 2008 after previously winning in 2002. Laurent Branlard and Team USA defeated the top chefs from competing nations in a challenging 2-day, 13-hour competition that tested the team's culinary ability and artistic skills. In between his world titles, he held the honor of serving as a judge for the pastry championship competition and coaching Team USA in the 2006 World Pastry Competition to a bronze medal. He holds the honor of being named one the Top Pastry Chefs in America.
His outstanding creations have been featured on the Food Network, CBS's "Early Show" and NBC's "Today Show." Laurent Branlard is most noted for his sugar showpieces, resulting in innovative designs, all accomplished by pulling sugar. He continues to revamp the hotel's pastry menus in all restaurants and banquets.
Laurent Branlard began studying pastry arts at the age of 16. He was trained in his craft in France and is certified as a pastry chef, chocolate-maker, ice-cream maker and confectioner. He holds a CAP degree from a French Culinary Institute in Vincennes. Before joining the hotel, Branlard was executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Buckhead in Atlanta. He was also executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, USVI. He worked throughout France as a pastry chef and caterer.
While working as a pastry chef for Bontemps Catering in France, Laurent Branlard participated in the country's most prestigious pastry contest, the "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (MOF - Master of the Craft Designation in France), an elite honor bestowed upon only few chefs. He was recruited by the noted Philippe Uraca, MOF to be his pastry chef. He also worked for Layrac Catering Company and held numerous other pastry chef positions in France. Branlard trained in chocolate-making under Chef Boucher, MOF, one of the most noted chocolate-makers in France.
Laurent Branlard has distinguished himself with fascinating sugar and chocolate showpieces and a host of other tantalizing desserts, resulting in intricate designs and awe-inspiring presentations. His proven experience adds an impressive component to the hotel's culinary team.
As the former executive pastry chef of New York's Le Bernardin, Michael Laiskonis produces delicate desserts that are a flavorful balance of art and science, both contemporary and classic. Awarded Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2007 by the James Beard Foundation, his work has also helped the restaurant maintain three stars from the esteemed Michelin Guide and four stars from the New York Times, in which Frank Bruni described the desserts as, "sophisticated without being pretentious, multifaceted but not unduly fanciful."
In his five year tenure as pastry chef at Tribute in Detroit, Pastry Art and Design twice named him one of the "10 Best Pastry Chefs in America". Now at Le Bernardin since 2004, Eric Ripert, executive chef and co-owner, says, "Michael's sensibilities perfectly complement the Le Bernardin style of light, inventive, and elegant food."
Laiskonis has been featured in numerous print, television, and radio appearances internationally. He was named Bon Appétit's 2004 Pastry Chef of the Year and Starchefs.com declared him a Rising Star in 2006. His consulting projects include an ongoing collaboration with the Ritz Carlton hotels in Grand Cayman, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, as well as work with the National Peanut Board, several pastry shops throughout Japan, and most recently, advisory positions with the Institute of Culinary Education and Starbucks. In 2008, Laiskonis became a featured contributor to Gourmet.com and participated in the launch of the Salon.com food page and a contributor to Britain's Yes Chef! in 2009. He has also joined the ranks of chef-bloggers with two websites documenting his work, mlaiskonis.com and michael-laiskonis.com.
After receiving his certification in pastry and chocolate, Chef Jerome Landrieu worked at multiple highly esteemed sweet shops and restaurants in France. In these positions, he managed large kitchen teams putting out decadent desserts and studied under three MOF chefs (the highest honor in France for artisans), enabling him to perfect his craft. Chef Landrieu's passion for excellence led him to begin teaching at the Superior National School of Confectionery and Pastry and, just before coming to the United States, he finished his fourth year at The Bellouet Conseils School, a prestigious Parisian school for the art of desserts.
Chef Landrieu's work has not gone unnoticed. He won two first prizes in sugar artistry, and 2nd prize for artistry at Chocolat by Pascal Caffet in Troyes, 2006. He was also a substitute for Team France at The Pastry World Cup, won first prize for tasting selection at Salon du Chocolat in Paris, and finished in the pastry semifinals at the 2007 Meilleurs Ouvrier de France Competition.
At the Chicago Chocolate Academy, Chef Landrieu is in charge of guiding the school towards meeting its goals of sharing knowledge about chocolate and desserts to both the professional and non-professional populations. He manages the Academy's staff, develops classes and recipes, and is constantly seeking out talented guest chefs for specialty classes. He helped to design the layout of the facility, equip the kitchen, auditorium, and café areas, and reaches out to equipment and ingredient companies to form strategic partnerships for the school.
"My philosophy is to always use the best products and techniques to create on-trend desserts. Unpretentious, elegant, generous and enticing are the key words of my work and such is my challenge every day. Welcome to my sweet chocolate universe . . . "
Chef Frederic Moreau, pastry chef at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA, joins PreGel as a first-time 5-Star Pastry Ambassador. Chef Moreau has an incredible history of both cultural and culinary experiences. He has worked in several countries around the world including France, Belgium, Japan, and Africa, including several cities across the United States. In 1999, Chef Moreau worked as Pastry Chef for the French Army in Africa, before which he was a chocolatier in his native France and an ice cream maker in Bruxelles, Belgium.
In 2002, Chef Moreau begin his work in the U.S., continuing to perfect his culinary technique in the pastry department at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida, and shortly after at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. In 2007, Moreau took his dessert experience to the kitchen of Occitanial, a pastry shop in Tokyo, Japan. In 2009, Chef Moreau moved back to the U.S. to take over the pastry kitchen at NoMi in the Park Hyatt Hotel, Chicago. The restaurant was rewarded their first Michelin Star in 2010.
In 2011, Chef Moreau took the position of chairman for the Notter School of Pastry Arts and European Baking, working closely with Ewald Notter, pastry world champion 2001. Then in 2012, Chef Moreau took the executive pastry chef position at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA.
During his time as a pastry chef, Moreau has competed in several culinary competitions, most recently winning the bronze medal at the World Pastry Competition in Tokyo (March 2009) where he competed with the USA team.
There is no doubt that Chef Moreau has a remarkable palate for combining flavors, and an incomparable ability to create enchanting desserts. Armed with an understanding of cultural trends and incredibly culinary history, Chef Moreau is passionate about the art of dessert making and is ready to put a sweet, or savory, spin in the pastry kitchen.