Chef Peter Becker of Balena - Biography

Chicago, IL

August 2012

Peter Becker got his culinary start as a hot line cook, but he quickly realized he had more of a knack for baking than grilling and sautéing and decided to commit to pastry full-time. After graduating from the French Pastry School in Chicago, he joined the kitchen at the Peninsula Hotel and completely redesigned its entire bread program.

By the time Becker left for Charlie Trotter’s, he had achieved his goal of baking everything in-house. And he was no less ambitious as the head baker at Charlie Trotter’s, creatively executing all their breads as well as those for Trotter’s to Go. Always eager for a new culinary challenge, Becker accepted the head baker position at Balena in 2011.

As head baker at Balena, Becker is not only in charge of the restaurant’s in-house bread program, creating seasonal bread selections that complement the cuisine of Chef Chris Pandel, he’s also in charge of pizza and pasta dough. Showcasing his passion for baking through his contemporary spins on classic Italian breads, Becker is interested in playing with different textures and experimenting with a variety of flours, such as employing semolina and durum flours normally used in pasta for bread. Balena’s pizza dough is also a variation of a dough Becker spent three years developing. When he’s not innovating at Balena, Becker teaches baking and pastry at Kendall College.