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 the delicious classic French pastry in the 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 whose taste, texture, 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 La Tour d’Argent, a three-Michelin-star restaurant. The following year he went on to become pastry chef in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton, another three-Michelin-star restaurant. In these renowned restaurants he met the challenge of creating dessert menus worthy of a three-star Michelin 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 Le Bernardin, rated four stars by The New York Times, challenged him to create a new dessert repertoire and made him popular for his beautifully presented creations, bursting with delicate flavors and taste. In 1993, François joined chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of Restaurant Daniel, rated four stars by The New York Times, 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 August1997, François’ childhood dream of opening his own restaurant, Payard Patisserie, became a reality. There, François strived to innovate, perfect, educate, and contribute ideas and passion to the field of pastry. Considered one of Manhattan’s finest culinary destinations for 12 years, Payard Patisserie closed its doors in July 2009.
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 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.
Branches of Payard opened at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Japan, and Korea, and in November 2009, he opened the François Chocolate Bar in New York. Described as "a chocolate jewelry shop," the store is devoted to chef Payard’s chocolate creations. François is the author of the popular cookbooks Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining and Simply Sensational Desserts. In April 2008, his latest cookbook Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone was released.
In September 2010, François opened FPB, a casual bakery on West Houston Street in downtown New York City, where guests can enjoy a variety of sweet and savory selections in an inviting, casual setting. FPB is the first of several collaborative projects from François and restaurateur Marlon Abela of Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC), whose portfolio also includes the A Voce restaurants in New York City, as well as other restaurants in the U.S. and London. A second location of FPB opened in Battery Park City in October 2012 and an additional location is scheduled to open in spring 2012 at 3 Columbus Circle (58th Street ).