François Payard is a third generation French Pastry Chef born in Nice on July 16th, 1966. François cultivated his passion for the art of Pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop, Au Nid des Friandises on the Riviera. He grew up surrounded by delicious, classic French pastries, a tradition carried on by his parents and grandparents for over fifty years.
After honing his skills in classic pastry by his family’s side, François moved to Paris where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations. These new tastes, textures and originality opened new horizons in his career. His dedication and passion earned him positions in several of France’s finest kitchens. In 1988, François held his first position as Pastry Chef in Paris at the Three Michelin starred La Tour d’Argent. The following year he went on to become Pastry Chef in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at the Three Michelin starred Lucas Carton. In these renowned restaurants he met the challenge of creating dessert menus worthy of a three starMichelin rating.
François’ desire to travel and discover a new culture brought him to New York in 1990 where he was eager to experiment with new ideas, flavors and techniques. His first position in New York as Pastry Chef at the Four-Star Le Bernardin, challenged him to create a new dessert repertoire. Francois became known for his beautifully presented creations, bursting with unique flavors and balanced taste. In 1993,François joined Chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of the Four-Star Restaurant Daniel where he delighted guests with his chocolate and seasonal fruit menus. In 1995, The James Beard Foundation named François “Pastry Chef of the Year”in recognition of his accent on flavor combined with a unique sense of pastry design.
In August of 1997, François’ childhood dream of opening his own restaurant, Payard Patisserie, became a reality. There,François strived to innovate, perfect, educate and contribute his ideas and passion to the field of pastry. Payard Patisserie was considered one of Manhattan’s finest culinary destinations throughout its 12 year run.
In 1998, François was awarded “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the Bon Appétit Food & Entertainment Awards and again in 2001 by the International Pastry Competition Committee – Beaver Creek. In July of 2004, François was honored with the prestigious Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Medal of Honor by the French Government, and in 2005, received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world. In 2006, he was selected as a member of Relais Desserts International, a professional association of the 85 Best Pastry Chefs in the World, and in 2010, he was honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence. François was also awarded Chef of the Year in 2015 at Las Vegas Food & Wine and also received City Harvest’s Award of Excellence in 2016.
Payard has opened bakeries and patisseries at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, as well as multiple locations in Manhattan, Japan and Korea. Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks “Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining”, Simply Sensational Desserts,” “Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone” and “Payard Desserts.”
This summer, Chef Payard opened the new concept Southold Social on the North Fork, where he is a Co-Owner as well asCulinary Director. He also oversees the General, a bakery cafè also located in Southold.