Rising Star Chef Hichem Lahreche - Biography
Pastry Chef Hichem Lahreche was born in the North African capital Algiers, but it was his French mother’s natural and precise cooking style that inspired an early love for pastries and cooking. Professionally, he went on to study physics and excel at professional tennis. And while the chemistry did not initially appeal to him, this appetite for knowledge and commitment to the scientific method was the beginning of Lahreche’s philosophy. A serious car accident in the Canary Islands kept Lahreche from his dreams of becoming a pro tennis player and took him out of university. But Lahreche's fortune righted itself. physical therapy for three broken vertebrae in Paris led to afternoons spent at grand patisseries like Fauchon, Le Notre, Laduree, and Dalloyau and an appreciation for the beauty and preciousness of life through food.
In 1993, Lahreche followed his new found passion and began an apprenticeship in a small patisserie and chocolaterie in French-speaking Lausanne, Switzerland. The fundamentals learned there prepared 28 year-old for a journey to the US and a position at Michel Richard’s Citronelle in Washington DC as a pastry cook. After two years of hard work with Richard, Lahreche enrolled in L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg. Upon graduation in 1997, Lahreche became the pastry chef at The Willard Room in The Intercontinental Hotel, working with Roland Mesnier, Executive Pastry Chef of the White House. Lahreche followed with an assistant pastry chef position at Red Sage in downtown Washington where for four years he honed his craft alongside French Pastry Chef Claude Perdriolat, formerly of Le Lion D’Or in DC.
In March of 2002 Jeff Gaetjen and Bob Kinkead of Colvin Run Tavern took notice of Lahreche’s flawless French pastries and offered him the position of Executive Pastry Chef at Colvin Run Tavern. His passion for learning brought him back to school the International School of Confectionary Arts in Gaithersburg, where Lahreche earned certifications in mastering Chocolate and Advanced Artistic Confections as well as Technology of Ice Cream and Sorbet Making. Studying under pastry greats Olivier Bajard and Norman Love brought Lahreche back to physics, examining the precise art of chocolate and ice-cream making through a scientific lens.
Although squarely in the pastry profession, Lahreche still gets as excited by tennis as he does pastry: “I don’t like to watch the finals; you know what to expect at the finals! I like to watch the new, battling young players with passion and energy that are full of surprises!” For young pastry chefs starting out, Lahreche advises balancing new research and experimentation with gathering the lessons passed down from generation to generation, a practice that has aided him from his post as executive pastry chef at Kinkead’s to his current position as Executive Pastry Chef of Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios, Orland, FL.