Published on July 12th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Jacques Torres On Christmas 2018, Being Called “Mr. Chocolate” & Working On Netflix’s “Nailed It”
Simply put, Jacques Torres is one of the world’s most famous pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Torres got his start as a chef in his native France, working under 2-star Michelin chef Jacques Maximin in the early 1980s. He went on to earn a Master Pastry Chef degree, and in 1986 Torres became the youngest person to ever win the Meilleur Ouvrier Patissier De France competition.
Within the 1980s, Torres also moved to the United States and became the Corporate Pastry Chef for the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. This led to working with Le Cirque as its Executive Pastry Chef for 11 years. Concurrently, Torres became the Dean of Pastry Arts for the International Culinary Center.
In 2000, Torres — also the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Pastry Chef Of The Year honors — moved on from Le Cirque and opened up a chocolate factory and retail store in Brooklyn. Less than 2 decades later, Torres now has 8 namesake shops in New York. Last year he opened Choco-Story New York: The Chocolate Museum & Experience, at which attendees discover chocolate’s journey from tree to chocolate bar through a self-guided tour of New York’s first ever chocolate museum.
Beyond overseeing those popular locations, Torres also stays busy as a judge on the new Netflix series Nailed It. He has authored several best-selling cookbooks over the years, works with a variety of charitable causes — including Citymeals On Wheels and the Make A Wish Foundation — and continues to serve as a Dean at the International Culinary Center. Torres kindly took time to speak with me by phone in late June about his past, present and future on behalf of The Hype Magazine.
More on the acclaimed chef and his excellent chocolate can be found at www.mrchocolate.com.
Jacques Torres: I’d love more people to know about my products. We don’t use any fillers, any oil, or any flavoring — it’s all real. About me, I’m a real professional. I’ve been doing this for 44 years now and I take my work very seriously.
When did people start calling you “Mr. Chocolate?” Do you remember?
Jacques Torres: Yes, “Mr. Chocolate” started a few years after I began only doing chocolates. It’s not just people calling me “Mr. Chocolate,” it’s me also finding the name MrChocolate.com for my website.
One of my favorite things about you and your company is that you have unique products for many of the major holidays. How far in advance do you plan for the holidays?
Jacques Torres: We’re pretty much deciding now [in June] for next Christmas. It’s over 6 months [in advance]… But we are not making the products now, only planning.
What was the first holiday that you made special products for?
Jacques Torres: It was actually Christmas in 2000, which was a success.
When you’re not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
Jacques Torres: I have a 22-month old and I love to spend time with him. It’s so much fun to see what a little one discovers and watch them grow, so I enjoy that a lot. Otherwise, I love to be outdoors, riding a bike and fishing.
Jacques Torres: My stores are only in New York City, so the travel is limited to New York. I have a show on Netflix called Nailed It and we tape in Los Angeles, so I have to go to Los Angeles for that. I am a member of a culinary team and we do a few cruises a year. So I do travel a little bit, I’m not always on the road.
Speaking of Nailed It, being on-air, was that something that you wanted to do when you first started working as a chef?
Jacques Torres: No, when I started working as a chef all those years ago, there were no chefs on TV. A chef was a guy in the back of the kitchen, there were no celebrity chefs. I was the Dean — and still am the Dean — of The French Culinary Institute in New York. By doing that, I do a lot of demonstrations. A friend of mine was a producer and decided to put me on television. I had a 5-year run, 2 years for PBS with about 60 shows and 3 years with the Food Network. That was around 2000, then I just came back to television this year for Nailed It.
Is that something you hope to do more of? Or is Nailed It good enough for you?
Jacques Torres: I enjoy the television [work], I enjoy doing something different but related to what I do. I don’t want to change professions, I don’t want to become somebody who does something completely different, but as long as I’m working with pastries and chocolate and I’m doing television, I enjoy it. I meet very interesting people. I learn other things.
In closing, Jacques, any last words for the kids?
Jacques Torres: Never settle for mediocrity. Work with good ingredients. Work in a good place. Don’t take any shortcuts. That’s pretty much what will make you successful.