Feature

Meet the Chefs of “Baking with Julia”

Julia Child

In her classic program Baking with Julia, Julia Child shares the kitchen with some of the most well-known and respected chefs of our time. She believed in watching and learning from practiced chefs, gathering ideas from what they demonstrate, and adapting them to our own home kitchens. These master chefs take pride in teaching real, basic techniques that everyday cooks can use successfully in their own kitchens. Learn more about the master chefs and their unique contributions to American cooking in the following biographies.

Meet the Featured Chefs

Charlotte Akoto

Charlotte Akoto

Charlotte Akoto’s elaborate pastries at The Old Williamsburg Company are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. Taught by her grandmother in Ghana as a young girl, Charlotte took on the role as the family chef. Moving to New York in the early ’80s, she began to focus on pastries and worked on broadening her baking range at the Drake Swissotel. Although she was only required to prepare simple pastries, Charlotte exercised her creativity and began developing elegant desserts that drew the attention of food lovers, her peers, and New York’s famed Algonquin Hotel. Later moving to The Pierre Hotel and The Old Williamsburg Company, Charlotte’s culinary skills didn’t remain a family secret for long. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Charlotte Akoto creates white meringue sandwiches with chocolate cream centers, chocolate meringues with caramel cream filling, and a meringue Napoleon with whipped cream and fruit.

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have made a career out of wanderlust and culinary curiosity. The couple continues to produce fascinating cookbooks with spellbinding photographs and unique recipes that truly document global cuisine. Spending over two decades travelling across every continent, Jeffrey and Naomi look to local bakers, families, street vendors, and modest chefs for insight on local foods. Not limited to upscale restaurants and tourist traps, the duo offers readers a peek into the lives, customs, and cuisine of the local residents in their articles for Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appétit, and Eating Well, among others. Focusing on flatbreads in their award-winning cookbook and travel journal, Flatbreads and Flavors, Jeffrey and Naomi tap into subjects usually overlooked by American food lovers. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford create a traditional wheat dough pita bread and an Eastern Mediterranean Lamb and Tomato Bread, serving both with a variety of Middle Eastern toppings.

Mary Bergin

Mary Bergin

Concocting sumptuous desserts for Spago in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Mary Bergin creates masterpieces that are perfectly suited for the whimsical, elegant, and over-the-top character of these well-known restaurants. After starting her pastry arts career as pastry chef at La Toque in Napa Valley, she became part of Wolfgang Puck’s team as soon as Spago opened in Los Angeles. She recently moved eastward to lead the teams at Las Vegas Spago in cooking up her pastry divertissements. Mary Bergin joins us on BAKING WITH JULIA to share her recipes for Nectarine Upside Down Chiffon Cake and Chocolate Bundt Cake With Crème Brulée.

David Blom

David Blom

David Blom has been spicing up classic European desserts with modern appeal for delighted diners for almost two decades. Born into a family of bakers, David spent a large portion of his childhood playing with batters and doughs in his parents’ bakery in Philadelphia. Already a whiz with a whisk and a frosting aficionado, David attended the Culinary Institute of America upon graduating from high school to broaden his culinary scope and sharpen his pastry skills. He immediately pursued a career in New York City, hopping from one extraordinary kitchen to another. Landing a position as pastry chef at the famed Montrachet restaurant, David spent six years feeding Manhattan his sweet masterpieces. With the revitalization of Miami’s culinary culture in the mid ’90s, David moved to Florida to stir up the dessert menu at Chef Allen’s restaurant. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, David Blom prepares traditional Polish cakes called baba and savarin.

Flo Braker

Flo Braker

Translating cakes and pastries and their garnishes into easy-to-follow recipes and concise instructions in her 1992 release, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, Flo Braker created the bible of risk-free baking. Educated in pastry arts at the Ecole Lenotre in France and at Switzerland’s Richemont Professional School, Flo has been writing about and teaching baking, pastry, and chocolate techniques since the early ’80s. A regular food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle since 1989, her work has been featured in nationally circulated magazines, including Bon Appétit, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, and Cook’s Illustrated, among others. Flo released her first cookbook, Sweet Miniatures: The Art of Making Bite-Sized Desserts, in 1991 and quickly became famous in the culinary world for her signature small bites of delicious desserts. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Flo Braker first creates ladyfinger genoise batter for her mini-cakes and later prepares her crunchy butter galettes.

Lora Brody

Lora Brody

Along with her tremendous appreciation for traditional culinary arts, Lora Brody also embraced the convenience of the bread machine in her book Bread Machine Baking: Perfect Every Time, popularizing this modern appliance in homes across the nation. A pioneer in the professional kitchen, Lora opened her catering business in Boston during a time when there were only two other women in town doing the same thing. Her need for friendship and advice from other female chefs and food professionals led her to create the Women’s Culinary Guild, which gave female chefs a support system they had never had before. Lora is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks and a regular contributor to culinary magazines and newspapers. She has appeared on Good Morning America, and Live With Regis and Kathy Lee, touting the beauty of the bread machine. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Lora Brody shows us how to prepare White Buttermilk Bread and a zesty Salsa Quitza.

Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham has inspired a new wave of modest cooks to explore their kitchens. In her revision of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, she continues to provide straightforward, practical recipes for delicious American cuisine. A home chef with a passion for food, Marion became serious about cuisine after studying with James Beard in the early ’70s. Assisting with his classes, she absorbed the lessons and refined her techniques but remained comfortably rooted in the home kitchen. This combination of technical know-how and unpretentious appeal made Marion the perfect modern voice of Fannie Farmer. In addition, Marion has authored The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, Cooking With Children, The Supper Book, and, most recently, Learning to Cook With Marion Cunningham. Always emphasizing the basics and encouraging beginners, she is a regular contributor to Gourmet and Food & Wine Magazine and writes a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Marion Cunningham prepares all-American muffins, scones, Irish soda bread, and popovers.

Marcel Desaulniers

Marcel Desaulniers

While his delightful desserts have graced the tables of some of the finest restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic region, Marcel Desaulniers’ popularity in the culinary world has soared with the release of his award-winning cookbooks, Desserts to Die For and Death by Chocolate, and his companion television series. Before becoming a culinary personality, Marcel’s fine cooking earned him the title of Best Chef–Mid-Atlantic States from the James Beard Foundation. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he is the co-owner of Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Marcel Desaulniers prepares a White Chocolate Pattycake with Chocolate Tulips.

Markus Farbinger

Markus Farbinger

Committed to fresh products and exacting pastry techniques, Markus Farbinger magically blends simple ingredients, including flour, sugar, and butter, to create elaborate wedding cakes and spectacular European desserts with a decorative flair. Born in Austria, Markus trained with accomplished pastry chefs throughout his native country and the rest of Europe after graduating from Salzburg’s School for Economic Development. He took his experience to America as a Master Pastry Chef and landed a pastry position at the acclaimed Le Cirque restaurant. Becoming a team leader for the pastry arts program at the Culinary Institute of America, Markus has now influenced a whole new generation of aspiring pastry chefs with his extraordinary blown sugar garnishes and his perfectly assembled cakes and pastries. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Markus Farbinger presents a classic espresso-flavored, meringue-filled Viennese pastry and an edible sugar basket filled with fruit.

Danielle Forestier

Danielle Forestier

Feeding hungry foodies with loaves and lessons for two decades, Danielle Forestier continues to contribute to the “artisan bread renaissance” across the United States as a bakery consultant to restaurants and food manufacturers. After training in Paris with Professor Raymond Calvel and working in a variety of bakeries, Danielle brought her classical baking techniques to California. Opening a European-style bakery called Les Belles Miches in Santa Barbara, she served fresh-baked wholesome loaves to her devoted following for years. She was the first woman and the first American ever to be awarded the title Mâitre Boulanger by the Chambre de Commerce in Paris. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Danielle Forestier prepares her impeccable French Baguette.

Gale Gand

Gale Gand

Beginning her career as an artist, Gale Gand translated her love for art to a passion for food when she began her own catering company. Responding to the success of her company, Gale furthered her culinary studies by working at the Strathallen Hotel in New York, taking pastry classes at La Varenne in Burgundy, France, and serving internships at several New York restaurants. She is the owner of her own restaurant, Brasserie T, in Chicago, which she opened with her husband in 1995. In this episode of BAKING WITH JULIA, Gale Gand shows us two of the desserts that have won her acclaim: a Chocolate Napoleon and Fettucine Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Lauren Groveman

Lauren Groveman

Sharing her kitchen secrets with home chefs at her New York-based cooking school, Lauren Groveman’s natural affinity for the stage shines through with her exacting demonstrations and interesting presentations. Originally planning to become an actress, Lauren’s life took a different turn. After raising her children, Lauren went to cooking school to learn classical techniques and begin her culinary career. Her professional life really blossomed when she began teaching cooking classes from her home. She later founded her own company, Lauren Groveman’s Kitchen, Inc., and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New York Association of Cooking Teachers. Lauren Groveman’s clear teaching techniques shine through as she demonstrates an easy home recipe for bagels in the program BAKING WITH JULIA.

Johanne Killeen

Johanne Killeen

Ever since the culinary team of Johanne Killeen and George Germon opened their restaurant in the early ’80s, delighted customers have been flocking to Italian-inspired Al Forno to sample their extraordinarily honest, made-to-order, delicious cuisine. Graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, both independently traveled to Italy where they fell in love with, above all else, the food. Upon returning to the States, the duo finally met in 1975 while working in a Providence restaurant called Joe’s Upstairs to support their artistic careers. Falling in love with each other and the art of cooking, they opened their own thirty-seat restaurant, Al Forno, and decidedly switched career paths. Sharing accolades from diners and awards from the James Beard Foundation, Al Forno has been called the best casual dining restaurant in the world. In the show IN JULIA’S KITCHEN WITH MASTER CHEFS, Johanne Killeen and George Germon join Julia Child twice, first preparing Dirty Steak With Hot Fanny Sauce, and then preparing a sumptuous Triple Citrus Meringue Tart.

Craig Kominiak

Craig Kominiak

Catering to a following of European-style bread lovers at Manhattan’s Ecce Panis, Craig Kominiak’s baked goods are swarmed by New Yorkers from dawn until dusk. Craig began his cooking career preparing meals for the masses while in the Navy. But after five years of cooking three meals a day for 200, he left the Navy to join the ranks at the Culinary Institute of America. Falling in love with the pastry arts, he followed culinary school with a short stint at Arizona 206 in Manhattan before moving on to Ecce Panis as the executive chef. In this episode of BAKING WITH JULIA, Craig Kominiak shows us how to make and shape focaccia bread.

Norman Love

Norman Love

Influenced by tastes native to Florida and the Caribbean, Norman Love’s desserts at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company are adored for their inventive flavors and elaborate, artistic presentations. A Philadelphia native, Norman has held a host of auspicious positions at top restaurants. He began his career as executive pastry chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then moved back to South Florida, where he had spent time as a child. There, he landed the job of corporate pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where he has worked since. In the program BAKING WITH JULIA, Norman Love prepares Banana Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Beignets.

Leslie Mackie

Leslie Mackie

Offering Seattle’s coffee-loving population the perfect accompaniments for its freshly brewed cups, Leslie Mackie has been churning out delectable sweet and savory baked goods from her ovens in the Macrina Bakery & Café since 1993. Leslie graduated from the California Culinary Academy and then worked in San Francisco’s upscale Ernie’s restaurant, where she honed her skills. In Boston, she furthered her command of pastries in the kitchens of the Regal Bostonian Hotel and Lydia Shire’s Biba restaurant. Yearning for additional enlightenment, Leslie travelled to the Italian countryside to observe the village bakers and learn the techniques that had been passed on for generations. Upon her return to America, she became the head baker at the Grand Central Bakery & Cafe before opening her own Macrina Bakery & Café. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Leslie Mackie creates an assortment of colorful fruit tarts and pies.

Nick Malgieri

Nick Malgieri

Nick Malgieri has been serving up delectable desserts and fascinating culinary lessons to sweet-toothed New Yorkers for over 20 years. Grounded in classical European pastry techniques and with a natural Italian flair, Nick was initially trained at the Culinary Institute of America and then travelled overseas in France and Switzerland to work with the most accomplished pastry chefs in Europe. His intense training paid off. First landing a position at the elegant Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, he went on to become the Executive Pastry Chef at the famed Windows on the World. Teaching was Nick’s second passion all along, and so he dove into the pastry arts program at the New School as an enthusiastic instructor. He was the director of the baking program at Peter Kump’s Cooking School in Manhattan, Nick is also a television personality and the author of several award-winning cookbooks, including Great Italian Desserts and Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Pastry. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Nick Malgieri prepares assorted cookies, including cornmeal currant biscotti, almond macaroons, and pizelles.

Esther McManus

Esther McManus

Esther McManus has been rolling out luscious croissants and tender pastries for years at the popular Le Bus Restaurant and Bakery, indulging hungry Philadelphians in her buttery creations. Trained in France, Italy, Israel, and America, Esther absorbed the teachings of highly acclaimed pastry chefs around the globe. Settling in the United States, she has shared her wealth of culinary knowledge as an instructor, chef, pastry chef, and consultant. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Esther McManus demonstrates her technique for creating authentic flaky croissants.

Alice Medrich

Alice Medrich

In the culinary world, Alice Medrich’s name has become synonymous with dessert, largely because of the extraordinary things she does with chocolate. She is recognized as a genius in baking and pastry arts, twice winning the James Beard Foundation Award for Cookbook of the Year. Her well-known San Francisco-based chocolate company, Cocolat, was founded in 1976. In this episode of BAKING WITH JULIA, Alice Medrich shows us how to make a show-stopping dessert–Chocolate Ruffle Cake–walking us through each step of creating this delicious showpiece.

David Ogonowski

David Ogonowski

David Ogonowski takes decadence beyond limits for his appreciative fans at the Seasons restaurant in the Regal Bostonian Hotel. He is known for building elegant desserts from complementary components, combining hot and cold, crisp and creamy. Originally a student of mathematics, David’s focus changed once he entered the pastry kitchen. After a few years of training in San Francisco, David moved to Boston where he landed the position of pastry chef at the nationally acclaimed restaurant Olives. Honored for his fantastic edible finales, David earned the prestigious “Best Desserts” title in the “Best of Boston” awards. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, David Ogonowski creates a Triple Chocolate Truffle Treat with a chocolate tart shell, custard filling, and chopped biscotti topping.

Beatrice Ojakangas

Beatrice Ojakangas

Passing on the culinary secrets of her heritage in twenty-two cookbooks and hundreds of magazine and newspaper contributions, Beatrice Ojakangas has been the voice of Scandinavian cuisine in America for over 20 years. Influenced by her mother’s love for the kitchen, Beatrice learned about her culinary heritage and the art of baking from an early age. She further explored these subjects by attending classes at the University of Minnesota and graduated with a degree in home economics. Beatrice has shared her passion for food in nearly every way imaginable: opening a restaurant, teaching cooking classes, hosting a television show, consulting for Pillsbury, and writing numerous cookbooks and articles. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Beatrice Ojakangas prepares a variety of Danish pastries from dough to fillings.

Joe Ortiz

Joe Ortiz

Translating the techniques of European village bakers to his own hearth ovens, Joe Ortiz has been baking incredible crusty rustic breads for over twenty years in his Capitola, California, workshop–Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria. Travelling throughout Europe, Joe and his wife learned from the numerous village bakers they encountered and chronicled their experiences in the award-winning cookbook, The Village Baker. Joe has led the movement of bakers away from the soft homogenous white breads of the times, back to the hearty multigrain loaves of European descent. Continuing to provide insight into his subject, Joe often writes for Cook’s Illustrated, Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appétit, and other culinary publications. He also shares his knowledge through hands-on classes and lectures at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, the University of California in Santa Cruz, and the American Institute of Wine and Food. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Joe Ortiz makes an assortment of sourdough breads in decorative shapes.

Michel Richard

Michel Richard

Disputing the common misconception that French cuisine means fat, butter, and cream, French-born Michel Richard has been translating his native cuisine for a Californian clientele at his Los Angeles restaurant Citrus since the mid-’80s.

By relying on vegetable purees, sauce reductions and herbs, his dishes yield great flavor and substance without the fat. After first striking gold with a fan base of fitness-conscious foodies in L.A., he then cleared a path for his next three restaurants, all named Citronelle, in Santa Barbara, California, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.

Nancy Silverton

Nancy Silverton

When loaves of soft white bread stocked bakery shelves and bagels were the biggest breakthrough in breads, Nancy Silverton brought our culinary attention to the soul-satisfying pleasures of artisan baking. She and her chef-husband opened the doors to La Brea Bakery in conjunction with their restaurant Campanile in 1989 after finding no one in the Los Angeles area capable of supplying them with the flavorful crusty loaves that they had sampled in Europe.

Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Ecole Lenotre, and some of L.A.’s most reputable kitchens, Nancy had become head pastry chef at Spago in the late ’80s, but still yearned to make good bread.

Nancy immersed herself into starters, yeasts, and doughs, and quickly became L.A.’s leading lady of bread baking.

In BAKING WITH JULIA, Nancy Silverton demystifies the art of bread baking with a demonstration of her starter, a few focaccia snacks, and an olive loaf.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

With a creative but classic style and a penchant for perfection, Martha Stewart has become America’s modern incarnation of the ultimate homemaker, leading a movement of do-it-yourself resourcefulness in the kitchen, garden, and the rest of the home. Martha originally took to homemaking as a child, helping her mother in the kitchen and tending the garden with her father. Pursuing a degree in history and art history at Barnard College and a stock brokerage career in her twenties, she initially kept her knack for household know-how a family secret. However, in 1972, after training at Le Cordon Bleu, she opened a catering company and began to give the rest of the world a taste of her talents. With the release of her best-selling cookbook Entertaining, Martha was noticed nationally for her signature presentations of impeccably designed foods. From there, Martha’s career has launched into the world of publishing, television, retail, and the Internet, where loyal fans seek her stylish culinary, gardening, and decorating tips. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Martha Stewart creates a gorgeous multi-tiered wedding cake with candied fruit garnish.

Steve Sullivan

Steve Sullivan

Offering the Bay Area flavorful, artisan-style breads since the early ’80s, Steve Sullivan rekindled San Francisco’s love for crusty, fresh-baked loaves when he began filling up the breadbaskets of the city’s finest restaurants. Steve made a hobby of baking breads in his off-time while bussing tables at Berkeley’s renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in the ’70s. When his techniques became solid and his product consistent, the demand for Steve’s bread increased, inspiring him to establish the Acme Bread Company. Currently distributing to top restaurants and gourmet markets over the entire Bay Area, Steve has set the gold standard for American hearth-baked bread. In the show BAKING WITH JULIA, Steve Sullivan creates a variety of decorative loaves, including couronne, baguette, wheat stalks, and pain fendu.