CultureMap Dallas brings back its Tastemaker Awards, an annual celebration shining a light on the city's top culinary talent.
It begins with a 10-part editorial series, profiling all of those nominated for an award in categories such as Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, Best New Pizza, and Rising Star Chef. Check out our page with all the nominees, voted on by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
It'll culminate in a party on May 12 at Fashion Industry Gallery, emceed by comedian CJ Starr, where attendees get to dine on bites from nominated restaurants and find out who the winners are in all the categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
This entry is Pastry Chef, honoring those who work magic with flour and sugar, transforming them into tempting sweet treats.
Here are our nominees for 2022 Pastry Chef of the Year:
Amy La Rue, Carte Blanche
La Rue is pastry chef and co-owner of Carte Blanche, the acclaimed bakery-restaurant combo on Greenville Avenue, where her croissants, doughnuts, crullers, muffins, and cookies have earned her a devout following. She learned croissants and laminated dough while still in high school, when she worked at a bakery-cafe run by a French emigre. She was already in the industry when she met her husband and partner Casey La Rue; the two worked at establishments around the U.S. before coming to Dallas in 2019.
Yudith Bustos, Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
Bustos is executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons, where she's designed innovative dessert menus for the Resort's signature restaurant Law, the bar and patio, Outlaw Taproom, and the seasonal poolside dining outlet Agave Pool & Bar. She also launched a program of amenities served in-room, and has brought back the hotel's wedding cake operation with an upgrade and modernized approach. She's worked for Four Seasons for more than a decade, at properties in Costa Rica, where she grew up, and in Washington DC.
Andy Pham, Le Reve
Pham is owner and founder of Le Reve, a shop in North Dallas featuring macarons, cakes, eclairs, and macarons. A college grad who was previously in finance, Pham harbored a passion for French pastry and European-style baking; although Vietnamese, he grew up with an exposure to French culture. He started a cottage business making macarons while still in school, and with Le Reve, he's fulfilling his vision of a modern French-style patisserie, where he's doing picture-perfect little pastries and tarts with glossy icing.
Siv Lopez, Bella Flan Bakery and Cafe
Lopez is founder of Bella Flan, a restaurant and dessert shop in Richardson doing flan desserts and Cuban coffee, along with excellent Cuban sandwiches and her signature papas rellenas (fried potato balls). She previously owned a bakery in Farmers Branch and returned to the field once her kids were grown. She specializes in flan cake, the luscious two-layer dessert with a layer of cake on the bottom and flan on top. She's Chinese and her husband is Cuban, so she likes to combine elements from both of their backgrounds.
Lizbeth Ramirez, Zero Gradi
Ramirez is pastry chef at Zero Gradi Gelateria and Dessert Bar, in downtown Dallas. A sibling of 400 Gradi, the Neapolitan-style pizzeria from Australia in downtown Dallas, this sweet spot features an espresso bar, pastries, gelati, sorbet, and a wide assortment of croissants including red velvet with a mascarpone-cream cheese filling. "Lizzy" studied baking and pastry at Art Institute of Dallas, and was Pastry Sous Chef at Wolfgang Puck Catering for seven years before joining Zero Gradi in 2021.
Maria Becerra, Lubella's Patisserie
Becerra is co-owner with her husband Ismael Trejo Gonzalez of this bakery-cafe coming soon to Casa View Center in far East Dallas. Becerra has done pastry for fine-dining restaurants such as Bullion and Flora St. Cafe but began doing custom wedding cakes and seasonal items during COVID-19. That has become its own cottage business while construction carries on at the cafe. She's also known for her pan dulce and tres leches cakes, which are featured on the menu at Jose Restaurant on Lovers Lane.
Kess Eshun, Kess Kravings
Eshun is owner of Kess Kravings, a bakery and cafe in Coppell featuring baked goods as well as dishes from her homeland in Ghana, West Africa. Her menu is ambitious with crepes, macarons, sandwiches, smoothies, doughnut holes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, muffins, and breads. She's a bit of a celebrity, with appearances on the Food Network and Discovery Plus, where she was in a 2021 cooking show called The Globe.
Lena Huynh, Davio's
Huynh is pastry chef at Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse in The Colony. A native of Southern California, she earned a bachelor's in Business Administration before getting her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu. She previously worked at Scarpetta at the Montage Beverly Hills Hotel, doing banquets for up to 300 guests, and also worked for the EMM Group in New York and the Hunt & Fish Club before joining the Davio's family in 2018, where she worked at other locations before coming to Texas.
Rosmery Menendez, Written by the Seasons
Menendez does pastry for Written by the Seasons, a more formal sibling of nearby Tribal Cafe in Oak Cliff. She got her Associate of Arts degree in baking and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in her native California, then worked for nearly nine years in the plant-based realm with California raw food guru and celebrity chef Matthew Kenney. Prior to Tribal she consulted on the menu at Brewed + Pressed, a coffee and juice bar that currently has a location in Victory Park.
Mariella Bueza, Monarch
Bueza is pastry chef at Monarch, the modern Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas. A graduate of the acclaimed culinary program at El Centro College, Bueza previously worked at the Ritz Carlton Dallas for 10 years, alongside award-winning peers such as Jill Bates and Corey Thomson, and also did pastry at the Fairmont Dallas. A native of Peru, she's lived in Dallas for more than 20 years and is well versed in any pastry task, be it a showpiece cake or one of the Monarch's trademark chocolate souffles.