Chef Johnny Iuzzini’s interest in the pastry arts began at age seventeen when he started working at The River Café in Brooklyn, New York. Although his primary responsibility at the restaurant was in garde-manger, Johnny frequently visited the pastry kitchen to marvel as Pastry Chef Eric Gouteyron piped chocolate butterflies. As Johnny’s fascination with pastry grew, he began assisting Chef Eric after completing his regular shifts in the kitchen. He learned the techniques of tempering chocolate from Eric, who went on to become the Executive Pastry Chef of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Johnny eventually moved to pastry full-time, cementing his desire to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Johnny joined the pastry department of the original Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Over the next three and a half years, he mastered all of the dessert stations and became Pastry Chef François Payard’s right-hand man. When Chef Francois launched his eponymous pastry shop in the Summer of 1997, Johnny joined the opening team and was named Sous Chef, a position he held for six months.
As a student of his craft, Johnny traveled to Europe in 1998 where he apprenticed in some of France’s finest pâtisseries, including the famed Ladurée in Paris. He also completed an intensive two-week chocolate course at L’Ecole DGF du Chocolat et Patisserie.
In the Fall of 1998, Johnny returned to the US for the debut of Café Boulud and then moved to the 65th Street location of the new Daniel for its opening. Johnny was named Executive Sous Chef for the new restaurant and held that position for the next two years under Executive Pastry Chef Thomas Haas. During that time, Comité Colbert named Johnny one of its “Emerging Young Artists of 2000”.
Chef Daniel Boulud promoted Johnny to Executive Pastry Chef in January 2001. The combination of talent and enthusiasm, and a long-standing working relationship with Daniel made Johnny the perfect choice for this position. Shortly after his rise to top job, Where Magazine awarded Johnny’s desserts “Best in NY 2001”.
In May 2002, Chef/ Owner Jean Georges Vongerichten named Johnny the Executive Pastry Chef at his famed four star name-sake, Restaurant Jean Georges, as well as its café, Nougatine. With this move, Johnny achieved much success. In November 2002, Johnny was awarded the title of “Best New Pastry Chef” by New York Magazine’s Gael Green in its First Annual Chef Awards. In April 2003, Johnny was nominated for “Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year” by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. In June of that year, Johnny was named one of the “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America” by Pastry Art and Design Magazine. He received the same honor in 2004, as well. Johnny joined Jean Georges in the opening of his newest restaurant, Perry Street, in June 2005. Johnny assumed the role of Executive Pastry Chef for this restaurant in addition to his responsibilities at Restaurant Jean Georges and Nougatine. Perry Street earned three stars from the New York Times.
During that same year, Restaurant Jean Georges earned its most prestigious award to date, three Michelin stars. It was one of only four restaurants in New York City to receive this honor. It continues to maintain this honor today. In May 2006, The James Beard Foundation awarded Johnny “Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year”. In March 2007, Forbes.com identified Johnny as one of the 10 most influential chefs working in America today. Of the 12.8 million restaurant and food service outlet employees, these 10 were arguably doing the most to tease, surprise and gratify our national appetite.
Johnny’s highly anticipated first cookbook, Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets From A Four-Star Pastry Chef, was published December 30, 2008. This book enables trained chefs and home cooks alike to explore Johnny’s use of single ingredients as primary inspiration for the dessert quartets featured on his seasonal menus at Jean Georges. Through beautiful photography and easy-to-follow recipes, he allows the reader to re-create each dessert with special attention to flavor, texture, and temperature.
Johnny has appeared in numerous TV segments for The Food Network, Martha Stewart, Top Chef, Today in NY, Paula’s Party, Today Show, Good Morning America and The Tony Danza Show. His talent and charisma make his personal appearances and pastry demonstrations a must-see by food fans across the country.