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La Belle Cuisine - Chef Feature

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...
is an act of integrity, and faith."

 

Chef Keegan Gerhard

 

 

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"I sometimes compare pastries to jazz music: 70 percent is based on
enduring principles or the foundation of the style, and then the great
musicians give you the 30 percent which is a surprise."

~ Chef Keegan Gerhard


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A Passion For Chocolat
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La Belle Cuisine

 

"The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful
tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out
on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance.”

~ Bryan Miller

 

Here's the latest!

Chef Doctor Keegan Gerhard
(Honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts May 2011,
Johnson & Wales University, Denver CO)

An accomplished and distinguished pastry chef, Keegan Holland Gerhard
is the owner and chef of the celebrated D Bar Desserts in Denver, CO.
Gerhard’s culinary career began as a source of income while training for
the Olympic Games as a cyclist. But he soon realized he had an innate
passion for cooking and began working as a chef at a French bistro in
San Diego, California.
Determined to learn from, and work for, the best, Gerhard was an assist-
ant to pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, founder of the French Pastry School in Chicago, and served as pastry chef for many revered locations including Charlie Trotter's Restaurant, [Chicago], the Waldorf Astoria [New York], and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He was also a corporate pastry
chef for Dean & Deluca and executive pastry chef for Four Seasons
Chicago
.

When not preparing delicacies in his pastry shop, Gerhard organizes and emcees the National Pastry Team Championships and the World Pastry Team Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also hosts the live Food Network Challenge series. [Chef Gerhard is now one of two regular
judges appearing on the Food Network Challenge series, as well as
serving as a judge on Food Network’s popular “Last Cake Standing
series.]
Gerhard’s awards are many. In 2001 he was technical advisor to Team
USA for the Pastry World Cup, for which the team brought home a gold medal. He has been named as a Top Ten Pastry Chef by Pastry Art & Design magazine two times, and has participated in six different James
Beard Dinners
.
Devoted to helping others, Gerhard volunteers countless hours to the
Make-A-Wish Foundation and to Disney’s Give Kids the World
Village
.”  

 

Chef Keegan Gerhard
(The New Official Bio May 2010)

"Keegan Gerhard, named one of the nation's top 10 pastry chefs of 2002
and 2004 by both Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines, brings
a wealth of experience and abundant competitive energy to his position as
Executive Pastry Chef.
A one-time cyclist, Keegan originally pursued a career in culinary arts
simply to have a mobile source of income that would allow him to train
for the Olympics anywhere, any time. But convenience soon gave way
to passion, as Keegan found himself running the kitchen of a French
bistro in San Diego. The day he fired his pastry chef and took over,
he discovered his true passion – and it has been a wild ride ever since.
Keegan set out to learn from the best, and worked as the assistant to
the celebrated Master pastry chef, Jacquy Pfeiffer, the Alsace-born
owner and founder of the French Pastry School in Chicago. Keegan
describes this as more of an apprenticeship and awakening.
Subsequent positions as Pastry Chef with Charlie Trotter's Restaurant,
the Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company ensued, as did
a position as Corporate Pastry Chef for Dean and DeLuca and Executive Pastry Chef of Four Seasons Chicago. Keegan was a proud member of
the opening team for Wynn Las Vegas. Chef Keegan [and his wife, Chef Lisa, are] now owners of D Bar Desserts in Denver CO.
Keegan has an enthusiastic but controlled approach to pastries, "I like to
stay away from things that are too contrived, and prefer to create desserts
that are refined and elegant," he explains. 'I sometimes compare pastries
to jazz music: 70 percent is based on enduring principles or the foundation
of the style, and then the great musicians give you the 30 percent which
is a surprise.'
When he's not preparing seasonal product-driven delicacies in the
pastry shop, Keegan spends time organizing and serving as emcee for
the National Pastry Team Championships, The World Pastry Team Championships and judging contestants on Food Network Challenge programs.
He has been featured numerous times on the Discovery Channel's Great Chefs of America, as well as the Travel Channel and CNN. For the 2001 Pastry World Cup, he served as technical advisor to Team USA, which brought home a gold medal. Keegan is the recipient of the 2003 Distin-guished Visiting Pastry Chef award from Johnson & Wales University,
and has received the Jean Banchet Culinary Excellence Award. Keegan
has had the honor of participating in 5 different James Beard Dinners.
His light, fresh fruit desserts have also been featured widely in


Neoclassical View of Plated
Desserts: Grand Finales

 Chocolatier, FoodArts, Pastry Art and Design and
many other publications.  

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


And now for the fun stuff...

Chef Keegan Gerhard
(Mom's unofficial version of the official bio)

Yes. All of the above is quite true. (Please, hold the applause...)

But what about all the stuff he left out? For example, did he mention
that he baked Princess Di's birthday cake (her last birthday cake, as I
recall) when she was a guest at the Waldorf? Of course not! Or that
former President Clinton's staff called the Waldorf kitchen one night
with an urgent request for cherry cobbler. No! Seems the Pres was
craving one of his favorite desserts...

I could go on and on, but then where would I stop? Seriously. This guy
leads a life you would not believe. I kid you not. Case in point: He just happened to mention to me on the phone not long after he and Lisa were married something about a honeymoon cruise... I'm like, cruise? WHAT cruise? When?

"Oh. Didn't I tell you, Mom? Well, you know, the wedding cost a bunch,
so I was seriously praying that somehow Lisa and I would be able to have
an awesome honeymoon. But for free..."

You need to remember that we are dealing with Chef Keegan here,
okay? Nothing is ever impossible for this guy. (Do pardon my bragging,
but I speak the truth!) Couple of weeks later Holland America Line calls
him. It seems they have been pursuing him for a while to do pastry
demos on one of their cruises. Would he be available in Jan/Feb for
the South Seas? And could he bring an assistant? No way! Yes, way!

Good grief. Is the Pope Catholic? Is Chef Keegan's beautiful, talented
bride, Lisa, a pastry chef AND a soccer player? See what I mean?

People eventually get around to asking me whether Keegan's culinary expertise is genetic. As in, did he get it from me? I wish! Well, actually,
yes and no, as perhaps the love of excellent food and the preparation
thereof runs in the family. But mostly no...

Ever since I can remember, people have said to me, "Hey, you really
are a great cook! Why don't you open your own restaurant?" Naturally,
I was quite flattered, but spending 18 hours a day at least 6 days a week
tied down to a restaurant kitchen was not exactly the sort of life I had envisioned. And of course, I didn't really know how to cook. Strictly
trial and error, with lots of frustration, blood, sweat and tears, and
everything from butterflies in my stomach to sheer panic.

Of course, as the years went by, my cooking improved. As I continued
to read, to experiment, and to change practically every recipe I ran across, things began to make more sense. In the meantime, Keegan became a very fine professional chef who wound up specializing in pastry. His former high school classmates still don't get it. Keegan? A chef?? A pastry chef???

Yes indeed. Keegan, of all people, who as a teenager was quite content
to live on Kraft macaroni and cheese, provided someone else would cook
it for him. But please. None of that made-from-scratch stuff okay? Or
P B & J sandwiches would do, provided his brother would make them.
How about this scenario: "Keegan, I'll cook anything you want for your birthday dinner! What would you like?"
"Great, Mom! How about meat loaf, mashed potatoes and peas?"

Invariably. Year after year. Well, you just never know, do you? Chef
Keegan had no formal culinary training, but what he did have is quite invaluable. What we used to call OJT. You know. Good ole sink or
swim on-the-job training. And even that was an accident.

Keegan did not intend to become a chef; rather, his professional culinary career just sort of evolved. But what an evolution! He has cooked with -
and for - some of the finest chefs in the world. With the enthusiastic zeal
so typical of him, his lust for life and insatiable curiosity, he soaked up everything he saw, heard and read as if by osmosis. Keegan's optimistic boldness and adventurous spirit continue to serve him well.

Chef Keegan is just as fearless in the kitchen as he was on the football
field and in the soccer goal. (Need I say that I much prefer to have him
in the kitchen?) What I have learned just by hanging out with "my son
the Chef" is beyond description. It is an honor to be able to share a bit
of culinary  knowledge with you via this web site. And now that I think
of it, LBC is also an evolution, and most of all, a labor of love.


"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."

~ Julia Child


Featured Archive Recipes by Chef Keegan:
Chocolate Decadence Cake
with Raspberry Coulis

"German Chocolate Cake" Taken
to the Next Level

Gingerbread Cookie Cutouts
(from Keegan & Lisa's kitchen!)
Jamaican Rum Pineapple
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Pecan Cheesecake
Sugar Cookies
Crab and Mushroom Bisque
Cream of Mushroom Soup

Chef Charlie Trotter

 


La Belle Cuisine

 


Notter School of Pastry Arts

 


World Pastry Team Championship

 


The French Pastry School

 


Garrison Confections
(Andrew Shotts)

 


Norman Love Confections
(formerly Ganache Chocolates)

 


Chef Charlie Trotter
Index - Cookbook Features
Index - Miscellaneous Desserts
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