Jacques Torres: Chocolatier Jacques Torres’ Favorite Things
By Lambeth Hochwald
Chocolatier Jacques Torres, judge on Netflix’s “Nailed It” Jacques Torres
When Jacques Torres, a.k.a. Mr. Chocolate, opened his first retail store in Dumbo, Brooklyn, in 2000, itwas just the beginning of his love affair with New York City. Since then, Torres, 59, a pioneer in the beanto-bar movement, has opened six other retail shops and, in 2013, moved production to a 40,000-squarefoot manufacturing plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Torres wears many hats: cookbook author, creator of New York City’s first chocolate museum, James Beard-award winning pastry chef, and lead judge on Nailed It, a baking competition show on Netflix. He
hails from Bandol, a small town in France’s Provence, where, at 15, he began his career as an apprentice in a pastry shop. Three years later, he began working for a Michelin-rated chef in Nice and, at 26, became the youngest pastry chef to win the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France medal in Pastry.
A job at Le Cirque beckoned in 1989 and, for the 11 years that followed, Torres worked as executive pastry chef at the iconic Manhattan restaurant.
Torres, who has served as dean of pastry arts at the International Culinary Center since 1993, is married to Hasty Torres, a fellow chocolatier, with whom he has a son and a baby daughter due this spring.
Torres shared with Penta some of his favorite places and possessions.
My favorite place in the world is… the South of France, because the weather is nice and everything I love is around the Mediterranean. I love the Provence feeling, that’s what I enjoy, that’s where I’m from.
The one thing in my kitchen I can’t live without is… I don’t have just one thing! Here are three things I have to have: I cannot work in the kitchen if I don’t have perfectly sharp knives. I like my Korin knives. I sharpen them all the time. The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is make a cappuccino in my De’Longhi Eletta machine. I also like to make pizza with my son in my Waring single professional pizza
If I were to buy a piece of art, it would be by… Leonardo da Vinci. As a kid I always admired him. This gentleman was a phenomenon, he put so much in his life, you might need 10 lives or even more to do
what he did. He was a physician, he was an inventor, I am always amazed by everything he did. I went to Italy to his museum and whenever I travel if there is an exhibit of his work, I will go see it.
The best book I’ve read in the last year is…Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Suskind. It’s set in the slums of 18th century France. It’s about a young man who has an extra sensitivity and he can tell you what’s in a perfume. His sensibility became so strong that he killed to make perfume, but you’re not mad at him for doing that. It’s a book that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, but it’s so interesting.
A passion of mine that few people know about is… I love to paint, I love to draw, and I love to build with wood. My dad was a carpenter and I built the furniture in my first store. I grew up with my dad taking me to his shop. He passed away before I opened my store, but I’m sure he would be proud to see that I was able to put this knowledge to use.
The one trip I’ve taken that I would love to do again… Tokyo. It’s incredible. The food scene, the markets, the products are all unbelievable. I first went there over 30 years ago and I’ve gone back a
couple of times. I’m always surprised by the quality of the markets, produce, and craftsmanship.
The next destination on my travel itinerary is… L.A. I’m going to be taping a Netflix show called Sugar Rush. They want me to be a judge, and I’m looking forward to it. Staying in the same place gets boring. If
I can travel and do different things, I’m always happy to do it.
The thing that gets me up in the morning is… my two-and-a-half-year-old son. He’s my reason. He puts a smile on my face and he’s this little ray of sun every morning. When he looks at us and smiles and says
“Papa” and wants me to take him to breakfast it’s amazing. He’s my light.
The restaurant/bar in my hometown that I love to take a visitor is… Soccarat [in New York] because it’s authentic. In France, it’s Auberge du Port in Bandol. It’s a very good restaurant that specializes in cooking incredibly fresh fish.
A person who inspired me to do what I do is… my father. He gave me the gift of loving craftsmanship. I knew that I would be a craftsman since a craftsman can make food, furniture, anything with his hands.
If I could have a drink with anybody, anywhere, it would be… da Vinci, or it would be my dad, and it would be in Provence, on Ile de Bendor, where I got married. It’s a beautiful island that has a hotel,
swimming pool, and you can go and order a drink at sunset time. The view of the Mediterranean and the smell of the Provence—having a drink there with again my dad or da Vinci—oh my God—that would be