We're back with another chapter in our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, honoring the people who make our local restaurant scene soar.
We've elected nominees in all categories of food & beverage, who are featured in a special editorial series and whom we'll celebrate at a party on May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.) with tastings and awards. Tickets are on sale now.
We've already profiled the nominees for Rising Star Chef, Neighborhood Restaurant, and Bar of the Year, and we'll soon cover Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Brewery, Bartender, Wine Program, Best New Restaurant, and our annual wild card, this year being Best Burger.
This time, we're applauding the magicians who use chemistry and precision to spin flour, sugar, and yeast into something sweet, whether they're baking a layer cake or a loaf of crusty bread.
Here are our nominees for best pastry chef of 2023 in Dallas:
David Madrid - Doughregarde’s Bake Shop
California native helped lay the groundwork for Dallas' current bread revolution when he launched Wheat & Sour, his artisan baking business centered on sourdough breads, in 2015. He previously taught at the San Francisco Baking Institute, while working at top S.F. bakeries such as La Boulange and Thorough Bread and Pastry. He got scooped up by The Village in 2020 to serve as baker and pastry chef for their restaurants, including Doughregarde's breads, croissants, breakfast pastries, kolaches, and cookies.
Jill Bates - Sugar & Sage Bakery
Bates is a veteran Dallas pastry chef with extensive hospitality industry experience in Dallas and California, and a history of work ing at premier hotels and restaurants, including Fearing's, Dragonfly, Craft Dallas, and the Mansion on Turtle Creek. For three years, she also worked at Cafe Momentum, the nationally recognized Dallas-based nonprofit that offers internships to at-risk youth. She's part of a new coming-soon bakery called Sugar & Sage, opening in the spring on Lovers Lane.
Karen Montero - Lucia
Montero had already been through college when she transitioned into baking, graduating from Le Corn Bleu College of Culinary Arts, then accumulating experience at restaurants from industry legends: Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, Hai Hospitality from Tyson Cole, Bullion with Bruno Davaillon, Squable in Houston by Justin Yu. In 2022, she joined the team at Dallas' acclaimed Lucia, where she's diving deeply into bread and focaccia, exploring grains and recipes, rotating in flavors like rye or seeded sourdough, but always with the end goal of making a bread that's pleasurable to eat.
Keith Cedotal - Keesh
Cedotal is a two-time returning nominee including 2017 and 2018, when he won top honors. He did pastry for numerous top kitchens in Dallas and beyond: from the Joule to the Adolphus to Craft to Uchi Dallas to Billy Can Can to Sustenio in San Antonio. In 2022, he launched his own venture, Keesh, which stands for Keith’s Epic East Side House, which he calls a Texan “bake-araunt” with a French twist, in which he delivers exquisite baked goods and preserves to East Dallas residents. Think foccaccia, seasonal fruit tarts, and lemon muffins topped with meringue. And of course, quiche.
Liz Bliss - Empire Baking
A lifelong baker, Bliss co-founded Wheat and Wild in 2021, a home-based cottage bakery that snowballed quickly, thanks to her unique baked treats using old world European techniques with Texas flavors such as sweet & sour grapefruit cookies and cornbread madelines. In 2022, she joined Dallas' best bakery as pastry chef, overseeing production on goodies like croissants, cinnamon rolls, and one of her recent creations, the almond wheel, like a cross between a cinnamon roll and a croissant.
Maria Becerra - Lubellas Patisserie
Becerra did pastry for fine-dining restaurants such as Bullion and Flora St. Cafe, then started a cottage business baking wedding cakes and seasonal items during COVID-19. Her pan dulce and tres leches cakes are featured on the menu at Jose Restaurant on Lovers Lane. In 2022, she opened Lubellas, a darling bakery with her husband Ismael Trejo Gonzalez in the very appreciative Casa View Center in far East Dallas. She's a returning Tastemaker who was previously nominated in 2022.
Maricsa Trejo - La Casita Bakeshop
Trejo and her partner Alex Henderson have diligently built a small but growing baked empire, croissant by croissant: First supplying pastries to area restaurants and coffee shops (which they still do, to an ever expanding list of clients), then debuting a La Casita Bakeshop storefront in Richardson, followed by a spinoff in Rowlett. It has earned her much acclaim, including TV appearances, a Rising Star nomination by Star Chef, and a slot as a finalist in the 2023 James Beard Awards.
Samantha Hawk - Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse
Hawk earned her dessert wings at Del Frisco's Restaurant Group where she worked as a pastry cook for five years before joining the team at Davio's, the northern Italian steakhouse concept founded in Boston by hospitality whizkid Steve DiFillippo. She's become known for her creative combinations, such as a recent sampler featuring tarts with lemon curd and blueberry compote; grapefruit mousse; and ruby chocolate anglaise.
Tracy German - Cake Bar
German grew up in Georgia and attended culinary school in Seattle, but was most inspired by her mother's scratch baking skills. A longtime baker who'd been selling cakes out of her home, she opened this cake shop with the help of the Trinity Groves incubator program, and has been one of the few businesses to survive the site's transition to a more conventional food hall. Her cakes are sold whole or by the slice, in flavors such as lemon, red velvet, and strawberry cake.
Yonathan Bustillo - Doughregarde’s Bake Shop
Bustillo started out on the savory side as a cook at restaurants such as Mot Hai Ba, Uchi, and Uchiba before switching in 2021 to the sweeter side of the kitchen at the Village where head baker David Madrid, who also started out as a regular cook, took him under his wing. Bustillo’s dedication and precision have propelled him to the position of lead baker.