Antonio Bachour: Pastry Genius
Antonio Bachour oversees a temperature-controlled chamber called the chocolate room. But as he squeezes into this nook at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort today, it's the macarons that capture his attention. Dressed in a pressed white coat, the bespectacled chef pulls a confection-filled tray from a stack. "Bacon macarons!" he declares like a child grabbing his favorite toy from a trunk.
billwisserphoto.com Antonio Bachour makes a chocolate and raspberry entremet.
Bachour then espies chocolates -- bonbons splotched with more color than a Jackson Pollock painting. He thrusts an assortment my way. "Try one," he says. "I make 300 from scratch every day."
The bonbons are as delicious as they are pretty, which is exactly what Bachour -- the peppy executive pastry chef at this posh hotel of 227 rooms, six banquet halls, and five restaurants -- wants.
But what exactly makes his desserts so special?
"I don't consider myself the best, but nobody in Miami makes cakes like I do," he says. "If I'm going to be a pastry chef, then I'm not going to be mediocre. I don't want to do things like everybody else."
Indeed, his skills are rare. Despite the city's long list of James Beard Award-winning chefs, this metropolis lacks prized desserts. Hedy Goldsmith, a Beard Award-nominated pastry chef who works for the Genuine Hospitality Group, and Jordi Panisello, the executive pastry chef at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, are exceptions. Only restaurant groups and fancy hotels can sustain such high levels of artistry.
And in the past few years, Bachour's talent has flourished. In 2011, he was a finalist at the International Chefs Congress Pastry Competition. Dessert Professional Magazine recognized him as one of the top ten pastry chefs in the nation. Today, he judges pastry competitions and teaches workshops at culinary schools around the world. He has thousands of followers on social media. His first cookbook will be published in six months.