Over the past few years chocolate has gone from something beloved by all to an entirely new entity. Creativity, experiments and new techniques are creating a new era of chocolate makers. One of the innovators leading the pack is Johnny Iuzzini, the former executive pastry chef of Jean Georges and Nougatine. Iuzzini is now branching out on his own with his own pastry consulting company Sugar Fueled Inc. and has just opened his Bean-to-Bar chocolate factory.
Johnny Iuzzini has an outstanding reputation with his desserts that are always creative, exciting and delicious. Iuzzini started in the kitchen at the age of 15 as a dishwasher. After riding his bike to work every day for years, Iuzzini was finally allowed to do some prep. Referred to the chef at the River Café in Brooklyn by the florist of the golf club’s restaurant, at age seventeen Iuzzini took a new job as garde manger, beginning his career in New York City. Observing Pastry Chef Eric Gouteyron at the restaurant, Iuzzini immediately fell in love with the art and precision of pastry, and began assisting and making desserts full-time, launching his career as a pastry chef.
From that point Iuzzini’s desire to be successful in the culinary arts was crystal clear. During his externship at the Culinary Institute of America, Iuzzini worked with pastry chef Lincoln Carson at Luxe, that led to a visit with the iconic Francois Payard, at the original Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. After spending a day with Payard, Iuzzini was offered a job as pastry cook at Daniel, which he accepted, working weekends until graduation. During the next three and a half years, he mastered all dessert stations and became Payard’s close assistant. When Payard opened his renowned Payard Pâtisserie and Bistro in 1997, Iuzzini was selected as sous chef, while continuing to work at Daniel.
In 1998, Iuzzini took a break from the kitchen to travel the world. He visited Hong Kong, Australia and Italy. In France he studied pastry technique while staging at several of the country’s finest patisseries including Ladurée in Paris, École du Grand Chocolat et Patisserie in Tain l’Hermitage, and Patisserie Chereau in Nice, as well as the Hotel Paris in Monte Carlo. After eight months around the world, he returned to New York to work for chef/owner Daniel Boulud, opening Café Boulud and the new Daniel as Executive Sous Chef. In 2001 Boulud promoted the 26-year-old Iuzzini to Executive Pastry Chef.
What helps Iuzzini stand out is his dedication to the process. “A lot of people use technology in their recipes as a way that seems cool and hip. If you do not truly understand the original process or the functions of the technology what benefit are they really providing,” Iuzzini added. Today, Iuzzini has decided to take his passion for chocolate to a new level and is currently pursuing his dream of building a chocolate factory and coffee roaster under one roof in the Catskills.
Until his dream has been finalized, Iuzzini is being manufacturing his confections in Deer Park, Long Island, sharing space with PKT America. Iuzzini’s chocolate bars are now available on goldbely.com and people could not be more excited. With an entire new operation, you can only imagine the equipment Iuzzini had to incorporate to make his chocolate factory a reality.
The new chocolate venture has been anticipated by many of Iuzzini’s fan base that have found their culinary inspiration from a pair of books that the chef has authored. In Dessert Fourplay, Iuzzini provides an arsenal of recipes based upon his elegant after-dinner quartet offerings from Jean Georges. With his second cookbook, Sugar Rush, Iuzzini took a more basic approach to the preparation of more traditional desserts that many home cooks can follow with ease. Working with respected cook, food stylist, culinary producer and food consultant Wes Martin, the book combines recipes with thorough examples of basic preparation techniques for the essential building blocks to provide the reader with a roadmap to producing delicious desserts.
In preparation for the opening of his new chocolate lab, Iuzzini has been in Deer Park, NY at PKT America working on the fine-tuning of the chocolate bar manufacturing process. “A key to being able to accomplish the creation of the line is the ability to execute with precision. I have had a long relationship with Irinox. First with Ira Kaplan and now with Ronald Van Bakergem. They make a line of equipment that can meet our need to reach very specific temperatures consistently,” the visionary toque continued.
Irinox’s MultiFresh® meets the needs of confectioners and chocolatiers with dedicated chocolate cycles that maintain its moisture so it can be preserved properly over time. The MultiFresh® unit actually has a Chocolate -7°C cycle which rapidly reaches the right temperature for cake decoration.
To celebrate the launch of “Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini”, Iuzzini is set to anchor the Irinox booth 3491 at the upcoming National Restaurant Association show in Chicago set for May 21st-23rd.
“We are thrilled to host one of the nation’s truly bright culinary stars,” noted Irinox’s Van Bakergem. “Johnny represents the flexibility that we look for in our Irinox line to bring to our customers to accomplish the precision they need to stay on top.”
To learn more about Johnny Iuzzini, visit his website.
To learn more Irinox’s MultiFresh, visit their website.