Claudia Fleming might be one of the most respected pastry chefs in America, but she actually dedicated most of the first 25 years of her life to modern dance. After attending the Hartford Ballet Company dance conservatory and receiving her teacher's certification, Fleming moved to New York City, where she spent four years working with a small modern dance company. Like many young artists, Fleming looked to the restaurant world to support her career, working in the dining rooms at Jams and Union Square Café. She was immediately attracted to both the theatrical and creative aspects of restaurant work.
During her tenure at Union Square Café, Fleming was a member of the hospitality team and worked at various stations in the kitchen. But she gravitated to pastry, which became her new calling. As she had with dance, Fleming took her newfound passion to the experts, going to Paris in 1991 to study pastry. After a prestigious posting at Fauchon, she returned to New York and leapt into her new career, working at Montrachet, TriBeCa Grill, Luxe, and Gramercy Tavern, which she helped open in 1994.
In 2000, Fleming’s talents were recognized with one of the industry’s most coveted awards, the James Beard Foundation award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.” And Pastry Art & Design named her one of their “Top 10 Pastry Chefs” in 2000 and 2011. All the while, Fleming has shared her passion freely, with recipes appearing in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Vogue, and many more. Her first book, The Last Course: Desserts from Gramercy Tavern, was released in 2001.
In 2006, she and her husband realized a timeless industry dream, opening The North Fork Table & Inn, creating a personal culinary stage for the dancer turned chef to ply her craft.