Michael Laiskonis

credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

As executive pastry chef of New York’s Le Bernardin, Michael Laiskonis produces delicate desserts that are a flavorful balance of art and science, both contemporary and classic. Awarded Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2007 by the James Beard Foundation, his work has also helped the restaurant maintain three stars from the esteemed Michelin Guide and four stars from the New York Times, in which Frank Bruni described the desserts as, “sophisticated without being pretentious, multifaceted but not unduly fanciful.”

A native of Michigan, Laiskonis’ culinary training is primarily self-directed. As a fine arts student in college, he discovered his passion for pastries while working at a bakery. Initially fascinated by the science of bread, its Zen-like process, and its living, breathing nature, Laiskonis immersed himself in learning everything he could about baking and pastry. Realizing the architectural nature of dessert, with its foundation in flavor and form, Laiskonis was finally able to unite his passions for art and science.

After two years, he was appointed pastry chef and sous chef under Rick Halberg at Emily’s in Northville, MI. In 1997 he joined Tribute restaurant, starting as a line cook before assuming the role of pastry chef. Influenced by this experience in both culinary realms, Laiskonis’ approach to dessert often combines tastes that are both savory and sweet.

In his five year tenure as pastry chef at Tribute in Detroit, Pastry Art and Design twice named him one of the “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America”. Now at Le Bernardin since 2004, Eric Ripert, executive chef and co-owner, says, “Michael’s sensibilities perfectly complement the Le Bernardin style of light, inventive, and elegant food.”

Laiskonis has been featured in numerous print, television, and radio appearances internationally. He was named Bon Appétit’s 2004 Pastry Chef of the Year and Starchefs.com declared him a Rising Star in 2006. His consulting projects include an ongoing collaboration with the Ritz Carlton hotels in Grand Cayman, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, as well as work with the National Peanut Board, several pastry shops throughout Japan, and most recently, advisory positions with the Institute of Culinary Education and Starbucks. In 2008, Laiskonis became a featured contributor to Gourmet.com and participated in the launch of the Salon.com food page and a contributor to Britain’s Yes Chef! in 2009. Most recently his writing has appeared on The Huffington Post and The Atlantic. He has also joined the ranks of chef-bloggers with two websites documenting his work, mlaiskonis.com and michael-laiskonis.com.

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