Michael Laiskonis was initially trained in visual arts at Wayne State University and started baking professionally, without a formal culinary degree, while in college working in a friend’s bakery. He then moved on to work as both Pastry Chef and Sous Chef under Rick Halberg at Emily’s. In 1997, he joined the critically acclaimed Tribute starting as a line cook for Takashi Yagihashi. He became Tribute’s pastry chef in 1999, where for the next five years he honed his skills as pastry chef. Since 2004 he has been the executive pastry chef at Le Bernardin, 3-Michelin star restaurant, working under Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze. Now Laiskonis has found an ideal venue where he can express his interests in the arts, architecture, and science through the alchemy of his innovative dessert-making. In the midst of his busy schedule he still find time to purse his other passions: art, music, film, and photography. Visit Laiskonis’ blog, Notes From the Kitchen.
Laiskonis’ recipe, The Egg, has been featured in the second issue of Desserts Magazine
Sherry Yard is the executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck's empire, including Spago, Cut, and Chinois. Each year Sherry Yard desserts play a leading role at the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Emmy Awards. Sherry Yard was named Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2002. Sherry Yard won a James Beard Award for Best Baking Cookbook for her first book, The Secrets of Baking. Bon Appetit magazine and the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association have both named Sherry Yard Pastry Chef of the Year, and in 2004 the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs presented her with a Golden Bowl Award. Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Everis Yard’s second book.
A native San Franciscan, Elizabeth Falkner graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 1989. Falkner has earned many accolates. Recognizing the need for a contemporary, quality pastry shop in the Bay Area, Elizabeth Falkner opened the first Citizen Cake in south of Market section of San Francisco in October 1997 before moving to the present location in May 2000. Citizen Cake is a retail bakery featuring contemporary cakes, chocolates, breads, pastries and ice creams all made in house. Citizen Cake is also Elizabeth’s imaginative restaurant and bar, serving brunch, lunch and dinner. In the summer of 2005, Elizabeth Falkner stepped back into the savory side of the restaurant at Citizen Cake. She and her team of cooks have put together menus for lunch, dinner and brunch to reflect the balance and edge that her dessert menus are known for. Orson, her second restaurant, follows her Hayes Valley’s hit, Citizen Cake. As executive chef of Orson, Falkner explores familiar and iconic dishes with personal flair.
Throughout her career, Falkner has been both a leader and a mentor to many other chefs. She has been named the city’s “Best Pastry Chef” by San Francisco magazine and a Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle. Bon Appetit magazine hailed her as one of America’s 10 top pastry chefs in 2003, and named her Pastry Chef of the Year in 2006. In 2005, she was nominated for the pastry chef of the year award by the James Beard Foundation (JBF) and has been a featured guest chef for JBF hosting dinners for the foundation in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
In 2007 her first cookbook, Demolition Desserts, was published by Ten Speed Press. Demolition Desserts lays out the elements of Falkner’s multi-part contemporary desserts to make even the most inventive combinations easily accessible to home chefs.
***Update 11/2012: After closing up Orson and Citizen Cake, Falker moved to New York. Her second cookbook, Cooking Off the Clock: Recipes from My Downtime, was published just last month by Ten Speed Press. The Next Iron Chef finalist will be opening Krescendo, a new Brooklyn pizzeria, later this fall and will be appearing again fighting for redemption on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef premiering November 2012.
Kate Zuckerman is the pastry chef at New York City’s famed Chanterelle restaurant. Chanterelle is an award-winning New York City restaurant that has been critically acclaimed since its founding 25 years ago. She is one of the most acclaimed pastry chefs of her generation, having been named one of the ten best in America by Pastry Art & Design in 2005. Zuckerman began her culinary apprenticeship in Boston under Lydia Shire at Biba and Rick Katz at the Bentonwood Bakery and went on to work as pastry chef at Picholine in New York and Firefly in San Francisco. Zuckerman’s flavor-focused desserts, which are described as a “life-changing experience” by the New York Times, have earned her extravagant praise from every major critic in the New York area and have been featured in major publications.
Zuckerman first cookbook, The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle, debuted in 2006. Kate features a full range of her flavor-focused recipes, The Sweet Life provides a deep understanding of the techniques of the pastry kitchen, while enriching the reader experience with detailed notes on the science of desserts, stories of Zuckerman most beloved ingredients, and tips on how to use the five senses to produce the most delectable desserts.