JH Magazine | Winter 2007

Being a pastry chef is about more than perfect endings. Pastries have their own sensibilities, their own timing. Mostly pastries are made in batches or a gigantic masterpiece commanding enormous amounts of time and attention. Pastry chefs are a part of every large restaurant or hotel kitchen, yet are a background support that quietly complements the work of producing plates for waiting diners. Sometimes they have a space of their own within the kitchen. Often they are the dedicated artists who work the odd hours when the kitchens are hushed. When a hotel guest arrives for breakfast, the pastries are fresh and warm. Not everyone gives thought to the person who arrived hours before the dawn to crank up the ovens.

Once you know it is in your blood to be a pastry chef, you must decide the path that is yours. It might be as a pastry chef in a fine hotel. You could wish to compete to be a World Chocolate Master and Culinary Olympic champion. Perhaps being a free agent who creates desserts for favorite local restaurants is the style you would choose. In Jackson Hole we enjoy them all.

Jaclyn Bernard is a dynamic young woman who grew up in Tallahassee, Florida. As a teenager she was waiting tables when the three women who ran the Taste Buds Cafe next door caught her eye. They taught her to use a chef’s knife and inspired her growth. She worked under Suzanne Imaz at Chicago’s Clock Tower Hyatt, who now does pastries for the world famous W Hotels. As Bernard shared with me, “I had no idea I was going to be a pastry chef so I didn’t pay a lot of attention.”

After acquiring a degree in business in hotel and restaurant management from Florida State, Bernard sent out resumes all over the country. Kevin Humphries, the executive chef at the Snake River Lodge and Spa, hired her for opening during a phone interview to make salads and plate desserts. She started her tenure, believing that she was destined to do spa work. After the pastry chef walked, Bernard filled in working extraordinarily hard. Six and a half years later, Jaclyn Bernard is the pastry chef for the hotel and GameFish, their signature restaurant. She loves it.

Bernard’s excitement is palpable, “It’s measure, weigh, whip, fold. I can see no reason to leave. I am part of a great team and still learning. I’ve recently fallen in love with lemon verbena.”  Being self taught she has been inspired by books including Sherry Yard, from Spago, whose book is The Secrets of Baking. Her advice is that “salt and love” are the important ingredients to add. The Making of a Pastry Chef by Andrew MacLauchlan from Coyote Cafe traces several pastry chefs on their paths. Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course, Desserts from Gramercy Park is another favorite. Bernard has taken classes recently at CIA Napa from Stephen Durfee of the French Laundry in plating desserts, from Susan Notter in sugar sculptures and from Michael Joy in molds.

Last winter Bernard’s desire to give back to community led her to coach a team of high school students in the culinary competition at Snow King Resort in the making of a dessert that reflected our location. She was proud of her team that made a huckleberry cake with white chocolate icing. The judges couldn’t believe that the students made the cake because it was “too elegant and fabulous.”

Javier Franco is the pastry chef at the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. “I love the work, the table breads and breakfast pastries. It’s being involved in the variety of textures, flavors, tastes and temperatures, to train the staff to do all the skills.” Franco was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and moved to Los Angeles when he was sixteen. He started as a dishwasher at Alain Giraund and Michel Richard’s Citrus Restaurant. He was fascinated by the pastry work and hurried to keep ahead at his own station so he could help out. The chefs took note and promoted him. Soon he was helping train the interns from culinary schools.

Franco moved to the Patina Restaurant Group for the next three years working under Chef Joaquim Splichal supervising dessert production for five restaurants and their catering company. After working at four of LA’s top restaurants, in 2001 Franco joined the team at the Four Seasons Los Angeles, then Newport Beach. He continued to develop skills, including elaborate sugar and chocolate showpieces. This shy and modest talent was asked to be a guest chef at the Davidoff Gourmet Festival in Berlin, working at the two Michelin star Grande Esplanade Hotel and has represented Mexico at the X coupe de monde de la patisserie in Lyon, France. He moved to the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole in the spring of 2006. As he flourishes in the local environment, enjoying the outdoors and learning to ski, his works grace the hotel’s spa and three dining rooms.

Cioccolato, the little pastry shop established by pastry chef Oscar Ortega in 2004, is settling into its new, expanded operation at 130 W. Broadway. Offering a full line of breads, breakfast pastries, chocolates, teas, coffees, plus a bar and small plates, it reflects Ortega’s incredible appetite for perfection.

Ortega’s culinary training began in Mexico at le Cordon Bleu and his pastry training in Italy at CAST Alimenti. His vast experience and talent have been augmented by many years working in Michelin star rated restaurants throughout Europe. Starting in 2004 he has been awarded as part of the Mexican Pastry Team in the Olympic Culinary Games. The French Culinary Academy has given him a gold medal and a diploma as an honorary member. In 2006 he earned a silver and a bronze medal at the pastry masterpiece competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Barry Callebaut selected Ortega to compete in the World Chocolate Masters where he claimed two first prizes and third overall.

Ortega has so much on his plate that his movements are a blur. His apprentice for the last year, Mike DeLoy, describes his mentor as a very patient teacher as well as an artist. “Every time I think that I have seen all that he can do, he amazes me with something new,” DeLoy explained.

For many years the confections of Jeff Raymond have been the favorite desserts at restaurants like the Blue Lion, Horse Creek Station and the Sweetwater, even Jedediah’s at the airport. Just saying the names mocha hazelnut torte, lemon raspberry cake, German chocolate cake, chocolate macadamia or Bailey’s cheesecake make diners swoon. Cakes by Jeff center many special occasions in Jackson Hole, yet Raymond maintains quite a low profile. This self taught talent who works overnight in the kitchen of the Blue Lion says his payoff is free days to play tennis or golf.

Moving here from Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1982 where he did some desserts in ethnic bakeries, Raymond has worked as a painter and landscaper, chopped wood and maybe even carried water. “I still get gratification from working with eggs, sugar and chocolate. It’s just what I do. I have a passion for it.” The beauty and the taste of his desserts reflect that passion.

There is something delightful about the pastries, and all the other luscious fare at 9,200 feet above sea level. Executive chef Wes Hamilton takes creative twists with the pastries at Couloir, one of Jackson Hole’s newest restaurants, a gondola ride above Teton Village. Hamilton, who did his formative training as a chef at the Cloister on Sea Island, Georgia before moving to our valley, serving as executive chef at Jenny Lake Lodge for three years, among other duties before his dream position at the top of the world came to fruition.

He loves making desserts. This summer creating a trio of creme brulees bringing savory to sweet with rosemary, thyme and basil, warm chocolate gateaus, vanilla poached Rogue River pears with maple walnut brittle, Meyer lemon creme Anglaise and his favorite dessert, tart au tatin. Who knows what surprises he will bring to the winter menu?


Soft Center Chocolate Cake with Espresso Creme Anglaise
Gingerbread Scones
Energy Bars
Bailey’s Cheesecake

Leave a Reply