We're seriously cooking on our 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. We've elected nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.
We've already profiled the candidates for Rising Star Chef, Best Neighborhood Restaurant, Best Bars, Best Bartenders. and Best Wine. This time, we take a look at the sweetest category of all: best pastry chefs in Dallas.
Chris McCord, The Star in Frisco at Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters
A graduate of UNT who also earned a degree in culinary arts at Colorado Mountain College, McCord made a name for himself at top-ranked restaurants such as Fearing's and Abacus, where he was noted for his clever spins on familiar items like red velvet cake and ice cream with choco flan, churros, dulce de leche sauce, and red velvet ice cream.
Gianni Santin, Haute Sweets Patisserie
A Food Network regular, Santin has more than 30 years of experience at far-flung locations such as Bali, Saudi Arabia, Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore, and Las Vegas. In Dallas, Santin was executive pastry chef at Rosewood's Crescent Court, where he earned many awards such as Pastry Chef of the Year in 2006 by the Texas Chefs Association. In 2015, he and Tida Pichakron combined forces to create Haute Sweets, Dallas' premiere patisserie.
Katherine Clapner, Dude, Sweet Chocolate
A graduate of the baking and pastry program at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Clapner has more than 20 years experience both in the U.S. and abroad, including at Savoy in London, Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, and at Stephan Pyles in Dallas. She formed her own chocolate company in 2009 and currently has four locations including the original in Oak Cliff.
Keith Cedotal, The Joule
A recently appointed pastry chef, Cedotal has a colorful history, notching pastry appointments in Dallas and beyond. He baked at Park Restaurant on Henderson Avenue, made cool desserts at Malai Kitchen, and did edgy desserts at Uchi Dallas. He was also part of the opening team at Sustenio, Stephan Pyles' restaurant in San Antonio.
Maggie Huff, FT33, Filament
Venerated pastry chef Huff has worked at many a restaurant, most notably for chef Stephan Pyles, where she met chef Matt McCallister. Now she presides over the dessert menus at his two restaurants: FT33 in the Dallas Design District and Filament in Deep Ellum.
Nicolas Blouin, The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Blouin is a repeat nominee, having made the Tastemakers list in 2014. A native of France, he started working at a bakery in his hometown of Toulouse when he was 15. He's bounced back and forth between America and Europe, from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort hotel to a series of Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland and France to the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Ruben Torano, The Joule
A returning nominee, Torano makes waves not only for his comprehensive range, but also for his pastry prowess and sweet innovation. Prior to joining the Joule family, he previously did pastry at such restaurants as Charlie Palmer, Nobu, and Nana. He graduated from Johnson & Wales with a bachelor's degree in baking and arts, but his biggest influence is his father Rafael, also a pastry chef, formerly at the Warwick Melrose Hotel.
Sarah Green, The Joule
Green has taken many creative twists and turns in her career since acquiring a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu. She earned her pastry chops at Oak Dallas restaurant, but has also dabbled on the savory side as well. She spent two years with Cafe Momentum in downtown Dallas, and has also cooked at restaurants on the West Coast including Sycamore Kitchen in Los Angeles.
Tida Pichakron, Haute Sweets Patisserie
Pichakron started out in the corporate world, earning a degree in business administration from A&M before switching to the glamorous world of pastry. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, and she worked at the French Room at The Adolphus. She met Gianni Santin, her partner at Haute Sweets, when they worked at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas. Like Santin, she's a TV veteran, having appeared on such shows as Food Network Challenge.
Tina Miller, Blind Butcher
In addition to contributing unusual desserts at Blind Butcher, Miller is also the owner and executive chef at the Proper Baking Company, a shop at the Dallas Farmers Market. She's a big fan of unusual flavor combinations and sweets that are not too sweet.