Chef Johnny Iuzzini Rocks the House with Live Music and Delectable Desserts at the Macy’s Culinary Council in Austin

Pastry Chef, Johnny Iuzzini at the upscale shops of Macy’s at the Domain
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Macy's Culinary Council

Chilled Lychee- Raspberry Bellini and the book Sugar Rush by Chef Johnny Iuzzini.

On June 11th,  a sizzling hot Saturday, the Live Music Capital of the World was pleased to host James Beard Award Winning Pastry Chef, Johnny Iuzzini at the upscale shops of Macy’s at the Domain. The event started with the welcoming tunes of The Spazmatics. An upbeat band playing popular songs from the 1980’s like, “You Spin me Round (like a Record)” by Dead or Alive. As the audience began to trickle in at the 2nd floor of the Macy’s Home Department, guests were already dancing their way to their seats, snapping their fingers, and tapping their toes. At first glance, this musical trio looked like they just walked out of the emergency room from a terrible motorcycle accident. The lead singer was wearing a neck brace, the guitarist had knee pads, and the bass player protected his head with a bike helmet. They were highly energetic and they sure felt right at home as Austinites are accustomed to live music, a perfect match in the spirit of our cultural motto of “Keep Austin Weird.” Right before show time, guests were served glasses of Lychee-Raspberry Bellini. It was a wonderful thirst quencher, more like salvation, especially for people who recently walked in to the air conditioned Macy’s from the 90-degree Texas heat. Recipe cards were placed at each seat for guests to preview ingredients and to see what’s cooking.

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Macy's Culinary Council

Heeeere’s Johnny! As Chef Iuzzini walked on stage and prepared last minute items before lights, camera, action, it was fun to watch him whisk a chocolate bowl to the rhythm of the beat. As soon as the song “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard was over, the tone of his voice lit up the room. It was a full house, yet a very personal and interactive session. The dessert theme was sweet meets salty. He invited a little girl named Lucia on to the stage as his Sous Chef.  She was endearing, had culinary experience baking with her mom,  and was never shy to speak her mind to the chef.

First dish on the menu was Smack Caramel Corn, homemade caramel popcorn infused with bacon. After the completion of each dish, samples were distributed to guests as the band played “Take on Me” by A-ha . The second dessert was Banana Fritters with Tahini Caramel Cream, a crowd pleaser for cocktail parties. The grand finale was the Smoky Chocolate-Ginger Ganache Tart. Midway through rolling chocolate dough, he suddenly stopped for a pop quiz session about baking jargon and kitchen appliances. The audience gladly responded back with their best answers. Chef Iuzzini shared stories about his childhood and travels in France while the audience tasted delicious samples of the finished products. He shared his best practices on how to craft the perfect crust, and the audience “oohed” and “aahhed,” to the murmurs of, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The cooking show was twice as funny as the Spazmatics repeatedly interjected with pre-recorded sounds of laughter, claps, and special audio effects during Chef Iuzzini’s storytelling.

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Macy's Culinary Council

Final Plated version of Banana Fritters with Tahini Caramel Cream.

Born and raised in New York, one thing’s for sure, he is super into chocolate. “I want to build a bean-to-bar chocolate factory. Work directly with farmers from all around the world, control every aspect of the process of making chocolate from scratch. Chocolate is not something that grows on a tree, it is created, so I can harness and put my touch on it.” Chef Iuzzini’s has a contagious smile and a killer side eye that makes him fascinating to watch live. His culinary passion is clear, and portrays good vibes with everyone he meets. He strongly believes in personal improvement and this is his best advice for aspiring new chefs. “The mistake that young cooks make when coming out of culinary school is when they walk out with this paper that says you are a graduate. That does not mean you are a chef, you are now a trained cook. You have the tools to do something positive. Always police yourself. It is up to you to push yourself to be better. If I’m peeling a case of apples, you look at the time tomorrow and tell yourself, I want to peel it ten seconds faster today. You have to have that fire and passion. Work for people who excite you. Find mentors in the industry. Gain experience. The more ways you know how to do something, the better off you are to adapt to any circumstance.”

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Macy's Culinary Council

Sous Chef Lucia is not shy to speak her mind. “Stop it, you’re making me hungry!”

With his slick Elvis- looking hair style, tattoos, and rock and roll look, he admits that he’s a little bit of a troublemaker who is always on the move. “I’m pretty hyper. I’m a big kid. I’m a little Peter-Panish. I refuse to grow up. I have a good time! The best part of reaching any goal is to fight to get there. Taking a huge chance on leaving a high paying job, leaving all the benefits and securities of being in a place like Jean-Georges, to gamble on myself was a lot. It was scary! To this day, I never know what’s next for me. It forces me to really depend on myself, believe in myself, and push myself harder than I ever have. I love traveling. Moving is important to me, touching people’s lives is important to me, whether it’s through charity or cooking demonstrations. TV has always been fun for me. I just don’t stop, I keep evolving.”

 

Chef Iuzzini is a proud ambassador of the Family Reach Foundation, a charity which raises funds for organizations that do research and development to find a cure for a specific disease. The ultimate mission is to put money directly into the pockets of families so they don’t have to choose between medical bills and food on the table. “So often when you have a sick child, one parent is probably not working. This charity helps supplement the income of their household.”

After one refreshing cocktail and three delectable desserts, most of the guests opted to stay for a book signing and photo opportunity with the chef. When a fan asked “What is your most favorite thing to make?” He smiled, winked, and said, “Reservations.” Own your copies of Chef Iuzzini’s books Dessert Fourplay and Sugar Rush at www.johnnyiuzzini.com. For more information on events and news on a Macy’s Culinary Council near you, click here.

Leilani Lim-Villegas is the Austin Restaurant Editor for the Daily Meal. She is a food critic who explores the world to feature top chefs, hidden gems, entertainment hotspots, trending night life, and dishes ranging from street eats to fine dining. Follow her travels and culinary journey on Instagram @leilatinasian_atx.

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