An artist his entire life, 2011 Chicago Rising Star Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan never intended to end up in a kitchen. During his first career as a musician he took the odd restaurant job to help make ends meet; he ended up accumulating 10 years of kitchen experience along the way. When MacMillan’s band broke up, he moved to Austin, Texas and began looking for a steady gig. He was hired on the spot at The Four Seasons, where he quickly saw the parallels between cooking and art.
He honed his technique at the Four Seasons in Austin and Seattle, the Driskill Hotel in Austin, the Houstonian Hotel, and Conrad Hotel in Indianapolis. During his time in the various kitchens he met several mentors along the way, including Pastry Chef Tony Sansalone who he credits for showing him highly artistic plated desserts; Sébastien Canonne, who taught MacMillan the importance of technique; and Stéphane Tréand, who enlightened him about the art of showpieces and petit fours, as well as plated desserts.
In 2006, MacMillan was appointed the executive pastry chef at Avenues in the five-star five-diamond Peninsula Chicago. He was responsible for the pastry design and development at the property’s four restaurants. What’s more, he developed a close relationship with Chef Curtis Duffy; the two closely collaborated so that the meal progression from savory to sweet was seamless in terms of technique and style.
MacMillan’s hyper-creative desserts have been featured in numerous pastry publications, such as So Good (Spain), Pasticceria Internazionale (Italy), Pastry Professional, Pastry’s Best, Pastry and Baking North America, and Pastry Art & Design. Additionally, MacMillan provided artistic direction, recipe development, and content design for the dessert and beverage chapters of the award-winning cookbook Tea Flavors (2007). In 2009, he was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award.
Today, MacMillan operates a consulting business, JMPUREPASTRY, with his wife, and heads the pastry department of The University Club of Chicago.