The sweetest part of CultureMap's Tastemaker Awards, our annual celebration of the best in Dallas food and drink, is the category of Best Pastry Chef.
Whether they're baking a towering layer cake or a loaf of crusty bread, pastry chefs are the magicians who use chemistry and precision to spin flour and sugar into something irresistibly sweet.
This is the latest category in our editorial series, where we spotlight nominees in categories such as best bars, best neighborhood restaurants, best rising star chefs, best bartenders, and best ghost kitchens, determined by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
Who will win? Find out at the Tastemaker Awards party at 7 pm on August 19 at Fashion Industry Gallery, where we’ll dine on bites from nominated restaurants while emcee CJ Starr reveals the winners. Buy tickets here.
And you can still vote in our Best New Restaurant bracket-style competition, now at the Semi-Finals stage, with four restaurants competing to win the title. To vote, click here. Don't delay: The next bracket ends on Thursday, August 12.
Here are the 10 best Pastry Chefs Dallas:
Jacquelynn Beckman - Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
A California native, Beckman has been pastry chef at the Mansion since 2018. Previously, she worked at resorts and 5-star hotels up and down the West Coast, including the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel and Carmel Valley Ranch, a Hyatt property east of Carmel-By-The-Sea, in California; and the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington. She's also worked in the catering industry including two years as pastry sous chef with 24 Carrots Catering in Costa Mesa.
Chris Cutshall - Empire Baking
If you're a restaurant, having Empire breads on your table is a sign that you're sourcing your ingredients from the best purveyors, and Cutshall has been with the bakery practically since it began. He joined shortly after they opened in 1992, and oversees a team of longtime veterans who provide baked goods to restaurants, hotels, and catering operations across Dallas, as well as two retail shops: one in Inwood Village and one at the bakery itself.
Tracy German - Cake Bar
Cake Bar is one of the big success stories at Trinity Groves, where it sells whole cakes and cakes by the slice. Founder Tracy German is a longtime baker who began selling cakes out of her home in 2005, honing the process of production, before opening in a space at the then-restaurant incubator in 2014. Available in 16 flavors including lemon, red velvet, and strawberry cake, the bestseller, German's cakes are moist and have just enough frosting, not too much.
Clyde Greenhouse - Kessler Baking Studio
Nicknamed the "bow tie baker," Greenhouse worked in the legal and finance industries but began selling cookies and other baked goods on the side in 2001. He built up such a following that he was able to open The Kessler Baking Studio in 2014, where the baked goods are still made from scratch. Signature items include the giant oatmeal cream pie cookie, but the lineup also includes cookies, biscotti, blondies, and brownies, plus breakfast items on Saturdays only including cinnamon rolls, biscuits, muffins, scones, and banana bread.
Amy La Rue - Carte Blanche
La Rue grew up in the restaurant industry: Her father was a chef at a Ritz Carlton property, and she began working at a bakery-cafe in high school run by a French emigre, where she learned about croissants and laminated dough. She was already in the industry when she met her husband and partner Casey La Rue, and the two worked at a variety of acclaimed places before opening this restaurant-bakery at 2114 Greenville Ave. She gets up at around 1 am to start the process of baking her croissants, Danish, and muffins so they'll be ready for breakfast every day.
Stephanie Leichtle-Chalklen - Kuluntu
Dallas native Leichtle-Chalklen was living in New York when she first started baking, selling her own pastries out of her home while simultaneously working at bakeries, learning skills from some of the city's top pastry chefs. She runs Kuluntu as a cottage food business, with breads such as the signature country sourdough and a seasonal sourdough (currently: Lemon, Lavender & Walnut); and a variety of seasonal tarts and pies. A passionate advocate for sourdough, she also offers how-to classes through her website.
Zachary Manasan - Good Graces
A graduate of The French Pastry School in Chicago, Manasan joined the team at Good Graces, the in-house restaurant at the Marriott Dallas Uptown hotel, when it opened in 2020. Prior to that, he was pastry chef at Fearing's, where his exploits included building a massive gingerbread cookie house during the holidays. He also competed on the second season of Netflix's Sugar Rush, where he and teammate Corey Thomson won the $10,000 at the end of the episode.
Corey Thomson - Fearing's
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Thomson has been Executive Pastry Chef for The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas for the past 10 years. He oversees all aspects of the pastry operation including the dessert program at Fearing's, as well as the creation of showpieces for display at The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge. He also competed on the second season of Netflix's Sugar Rush, where he and teammate Zach Manasan won $10,000.
Stephanie Vivino - Trova Wine + Market
Vivino earned a degree in Baking in Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, then worked for one of the biggest names in pastry: chef Dominique Ansel in New York, first as a pastry cook at Dominique Ansel Kitchen, then as Chef de Partie at Dominique Ansel Bakery. She's also worked at the Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Raton, and at Petticoat Row Bakery in Nantucket.
Mark Yim - Cremcrittos
Multifaceted bakery from brothers Mark and Young Yim is half bakery, half ice cream shop. They offer gelato plus cinnamon rolls, Danish, trendy cronuts, and croissants both sweet and savory (such as ham & cheese). Mark was previously a pastry cook who studied at The French Pastry School in Chicago. After graduating, he did an internship at the Wynne Hotel Las Vegas, then moved back to Dallas, where he worked at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas hotel. They opened this shop in 2020.