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PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, The Bristol and Balena
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Pastry and Baking Arts, C.I.A
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Vanilla Basque Cake with confit apples, apple cider sabayon with cinnamon candied walnuts
Amanda Rockman grew up in Katy, Texas, where her mother would prepare lavish meals made from fresh and seasonal ingredients; she still recalls the day her mother made a Sacher torte when she was eight. Those meals around the dinner table provided enough inspiration for Amanda to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park where she received her A.O.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts. Upon graduation, Amanda moved to Chicago to work at TRU under Gale Gand, where she started their chocolate program, offering 12 hand-made confections nightly, and importantly, met Chef Chris Pandel who was her sous-chef. Shortly thereafter, she traveled abroad for a few months and returned to Texas to work as the Executive Pastry Chef of FINO and ASTI Trattoria in Austin. After a few years, she returned to Chicago where she helped open Laurent Gras’s L.20, and at the age of 26, she became the Pastry Sous Chef at The Peninsula Hotel where she met her mentor, Celine Plano. In January 2011, she was honored with Chicago’s Jean Banchet Rising Pastry Chef award alongside Chef Chris Pandel, whom she rejoins at The Bristol. Amanda’s culinary philosophy is “Flavor comes first. Technique is second.” Amanda says, “Last but not least, your food needs a bit of soul. Sure, it can be simple or complex, but I want you to be able to feel the love and attention that was put into making that pastry.” She always has almond flour, vanilla bean, salt, vinegar, and chocolate on-hand. Amanda will be opening The Bristol group’s second restaurant, Balena, in Chicago come Fall of 2011.