As executive pastry chef at New York’s Le Bernardin, Michael Laiskonis is known for exquisite desserts that balance art and science—an apt reflection of his early introduction to the craft. Laiksonis, a visual arts major, was a college convert to pastry, getting his first taste of the industry while logging 16-hour days at a friend’s bakery. Initially fascinated by the science of bread, the Michigan-native immersed himself in learning everything he could about the worlds of baking and pastry.
He soon discovered that the technique and traditions of the visual arts translated well to the combined discipline and creativity of pastry. He first explored those duel disciplines as a pastry chef and sous chef at Emily’s in Northville, Michigan, followed by a brief stint as line cook at Tribute, where he developed a keen appreciation for the balance of savory and sweet.
At Le Bernardin, where he began in 2004, Laiskonis found the perfect venue for his creative and elegant confections, which have garnered him national praise and recognition. Laiskonis was a 2006 StarChefs.com Rising Star Pastry Chef and a 2007 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef, and he was twice named one of the “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America.” Laiskonis is also an active consultant for the Ritz Carlton hotels, as well as an advisor to the Institute of Culinary Education and Starbucks. And, no doubt with respect to scientific method, Laiskonis records his work in writing—from The Huffington Post and The Atlantic to his own blogs, in addition to a recent contribution to the 2011 anthology, The Kitchen as Laboratory.