Joseph DiPaolo got his first introduction to cooking in his grandmothers’ kitchen. He went out on a limb and took a culinary class in sixth grade thinking he would be able to eat instead of study. After seeing a kitchen manager at a local restaurant make strawberry soup for dessert one night, Mr. DiPaolo was hooked. From that point, he traveled across the world to the CIA, Japan and even Le Cordon Bleu College. Chef Joe now works as a Pastry Chef for Duncan Hines at Pinnacle Foods in Parsippany, NJ, and is a board member of the American Pie Council. Mr. DiPaolo has a varied and decorated history but one thing has not changed; his love for pastries and dedication to his craft.
Mr. DiPaolo, what was your education and career path like as a pastry chef?
I studied at the Culinary Institute of America where I earned my degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. My first job after school was as Pastry cook for The Dining Room at the Hilton in Short Hills, New Jersey, the state’s only five diamond restaurant. Then I landed in Matsumoto, Japan in the Nagano prefecture. While working as the Pastry Chef for Sweet Foods I studied the art of Japanese pastry making.
What did you do after coming back to the United States?
After leaving Japan I worked in an R&D role at M&M Mars Candy Company where I developed a love for baking science. From there I went to go work in a high volume restaurant outside of Atlanta and then as a pastry instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College in Tucker, Georgia. There I obtained the title of Certified Executive Pastry Chef by the American Culinary Federation.
When did you make the move to Pinnacle Foods?
I came home to New Jersey to work as the pastry chef for Duncan Hines at Pinnacle Food where I have been for the last six and a half years. While at Pinnacle Foods I have also had the opportunity to represent our brand as a board member of the American Pie Council.
Can you talk about some of the mentors that had a major impact on your career?
My first mentor was my father who passed away thirteen years. He taught me to always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you do and always love what you do. As for Chefs, Chef Helmut Holzer has taught me to be a student of pastry and always be there for your fellow chefs. Also Chef Anil Rohira, a true professional, taught me to truly understand the science behind pastry and always try to understand the “why”.
What brought you to Pinnacle Foods?
The Duncan Hines Brand. It was a great opportunity to be part of something really huge. We have millions of fans that want to be inspired and learn about desserts.
What is your signature dessert?
Peanut butter Delight featuring a Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie. The dessert is composed of layers of brownie, peanut butter crunch, peanut butter caramel and chocolate mousse served with a raspberry sour cherry marmalade.
Wow. What was the inspiration for it?
My inspiration is the consumer. Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate? My consumer is the home baker so I wanted to prepare something that will help inspire them to think about baking differently through balanced flavor and texture.
In a “big ego” business, what makes you tick?
I love pastry. A day without it isn’t a good day! I love the happiness it brings people when they enjoy my desserts. It’s such a small world and having the opportunity to meet so many chefs from around the world and being able to “talk shop” with them is such a great feeling.
Do you see it as an obligation to pass along your base of knowledge to the next generation of chefs?
I believe we have a responsibility to share our knowledge. I wouldn’t be where I am today if pastry chefs who came before me didn’t share what they knew. They also aired their mistakes which allowed me to push myself even further. Now as I pass knowledge on I share my own mistakes, allowing the new generation to go even further.
It seems like every chef is now either on TV or writing books. Is that a priority for you?
I would love to write a cookbook eventually but right now that is not a priority.
Where do you see yourself five and ten years out?
All I know is pastry will be involved! I am excited for the future, as I feel I am just getting started in everything I want to accomplish as a pastry chef.