Chef En-Ming Hsu, a world-renowned pastry chef, boasts an extensive and impressive list of achievements. Graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York marked the beginning of her illustrious career.
On the Road to Becoming a Pastry Chef
“For as long as I remember, I have had an interest in cooking and baking,” said Hsu. “After graduating from college, I worked in a catering company to gain industry experience and decided to go to The Culinary Institute of America for formal training. While there, the school began their Baking and Pastry A.O.S. program. When I heard about the new program, I realized the pastry kitchen was where I belonged and transferred to the new program. As much as I loved cooking, I found my passion to be in the pastry kitchen. I was drawn to the artistry and precision involved in creating desserts.”
Her career began in the kitchens of the renowned Lespinasse restaurant at New York City’s prestigious St. Regis Hotel under the direction of the late Chef Grey Kunz. Additionally, Chef Hsu worked at Patisserie Café Didier in Washington DC. From 1994 to 2004, En-Ming held a prominent position at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago Hotel, primarily serving as the Executive Pastry Chef during most of her tenure. Since then, she has chosen to share her expertise as an independent pastry chef and consultant.
Her dedication to education has taken her to renowned culinary institutions worldwide, where she has imparted her knowledge. En-Ming has graced the faculty of esteemed establishments such as the King Arthur Baking Education Center and The French Pastry School. Her outstanding skills and reputation have also led to her involvement as a judge in esteemed national and international pastry competitions, a testament to her excellence in the field.
En-Ming attributes her studio art studies at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, as a significant influence on the design and presentation of her culinary creations. Leveraging her artistic background, she achieved mastery in crafting intricate chocolate and sugar showpieces to showcase her pastry innovations and specialty confections. Her penchant for artistic expression extends to her exploration of local farmers’ markets, where she derives inspiration for her acclaimed desserts and distinctive fruit preserves.
In 2001, En-Ming served as Team Captain of the first and only U.S. pastry team to take the gold
medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie in Lyon, France. Alongside En-Ming, the team that clinched the gold medal included Chefs Ewald Notter and Michel Willaume. Chef Jody Klocko was the team’s assistant. Providing coaching and guidance to the team were Chefs Stanton Ho and Donald Wressell.
“Ewald, Michel, and I were very proud to win. We showed the world that the US could do it. It was the culmination of almost a year of intense preparation not only by us but by our dedicated coaches and managers,” says Hsu on winning the 2001 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie. “I wouldn’t say that we were under pressure to win but we were very aware of the efforts made by our organization and sponsors to enable the team to compete. By the time we got into our booth on competition day, we were ready. That’s an important feeling. The best part of our team is the friendship we have with each other to this day.’
This bi-annual competition highlights the skills and gastronomic innovations of the world’s finest pastry chefs. She has returned to the Coupe du Monde to serve as President of the International Jury, Jury President and Manager for Team USA, and guest commentator.
En-Ming says for those pastry chefs thinking about entering a competition or trying out for the next US Pastry Team, “Go for it! It will be an unforgettable experience.” She goes on to say that there is “as much to learn in preparing for competition as there is in competing in the event itself. Competition training improves focus, discipline, and skill. It forces you to take on a challenge, test your strength, and commit to a goal. There is no better feeling when you achieve that goal.
It’s important to have two things: First, the support of your team and family because of the time you’ll need to dedicate yourself to training. Second, a mentor or someone with competition experience to help guide you through the process. Competition training is daunting. Having a strong support system makes all the difference.”
In 1997, En-Ming earned the title of “Pastry Chef of the Year in America” by clinching the gold medal at the Eighth Annual U.S. Pastry Competition. Her accolades continued to accumulate over the years, including the “Rising Star Chef of 1999” award from the James Beard Foundation, recognition as one of the “Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America” by both Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines, and the title of “Best Pastry Chef in Chicago” as bestowed by Chicago magazine and at the Jean Banchet Chef’s Gala.
“Competition training improves focus, discipline, and skill. It forces you to take on a challenge, test your strength, and commit to a goal. There is no better feeling when you achieve that goal.”Chef En-Ming Hsu
En-Ming’s contributions were further celebrated with the distinction of being named a “Distinguished Visiting Pastry Chef” by Johnson and Wales University and receiving the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Paris Gourmet. She also earned recognition as Dame de l’Année 2009 from the Académie Culinaire de France and was granted an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Culinary Arts by Johnson and Wales University. In 2010, En-Ming was honored with the “Pastry Chef of the Year” award at the Amoretti World Pastry Team Championship. Her excellence in the culinary field was highlighted once again in 2022 when she received the “Woman of Distinction Award” in the Manufacturing category from the Southern Nevada chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
The Birth of Sip! Extraordinary Drinking Chocolate
In October 2021, En-Ming and her sister Yih-Ming formed Sip LLC to produce their luxurious Sip!
Extraordinary Drinking Chocolate mix. Sip! is a rich, creamy beverage that may be served hot,
chilled, or frozen. It is available online for retail and wholesale orders. Sip proudly partners with other small businesses to manufacture Sip! En-Ming developed Sip! to be a multi-purpose product that can be transformed into irresistible treats including chocolate mousse, gelato-style frozen desserts, chocolate milkshakes, and other delights. Sip’s mission is to support nonprofit organizations that feed hungry children.
En-Ming’s creative culinary contributions have graced the pages of esteemed publications such as “So Good,” “Modern Baking,” “Art Culinaire,” “Food Arts,” “Gourmet,” “Chef’s Magazine,” “Pastry Art and Design,” “Pastry’s Best,” “Bake,” and “Shelter” magazines. Her delectable recipes have also found their way into notable publications, including “A Neoclassic View of Plated Desserts,” “A Modernist View of Plated Desserts,” “Exceptional Excursions, The Pastry Chef’s Apprentice,” and “Essentials of Nutrition for Chefs.”
For those eager to learn from her expertise, En-Ming offers video classes accessible on craftsy.com and has produced an instructional DVD titled “Chocolate Pastries Made Simply at Home.” In recognition of her culinary expertise and dedication, she holds memberships in both Les Dames d’Escoffier and L’Academie Culinaire.
In an interview with the Bread Bakers Guild, En-Ming said that a source of inspiration for her is the students that she has taught. She said that they [her students] inspire her to continue to learn and grow.
“That’s important because our business is constantly evolving,” she went on to say. “Students have those wide eyes and excitement when we work together. It’s an energy booster and helps me to view an industry that I have spent decades in differently.”
“Formal education is very valuable,” said Hsu. “While learning by watching free YouTube, Instagram, online, or virtually is beneficial, it’s not the same as the hands-on experience that a well-rounded program offers. If that’s not an option, finding a mentor to work with is invaluable.”
Check out our recent story featuring Chef Hsu’s Milk Chocolate Raspberry Bavarois.