Pastry Chef Blake Abene of Square Root - Biography

New Orleans, LA

January 2016

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Blake Abene was sitting among coworkers at the insurance agency where he worked. He remembers asking his office manager what she’d do, if she could do anything else. When she said that she would start a bakery, Abene suddenly understood: that’s what he wanted to do.

Abene had always cooked. All of his jobs before joining the family insurance company were in the restaurant industry. Once Katrina viciously came and went, and Abene found himself in the terrible position of relaying bad news to the uninsured, he knew he needed a change. Something joyful. The prospect of baking for a living was suddenly real. 

His first step was earning a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, through which he interned at Jean Georges for Johnny Iuzzini. Two days after he graduated, Abene was working for Iuzzini. After three years, he picked up the tongs on the pastry side at Corton before being promoted to sous chef. And when Rising Star Pastry Chef Shawn Gawle left, Abene took over his role. Eventually, he returned home to Louisiana and New Orleans to take on the position of pastry chef at Rising Star Chef Phillip Lopez’s Square Root, where he fuses a sleek modern style with a native’s appreciation for the seasons and local flavor.