François Payard is a third-generation French Pastry Chef born in Nice on July 16, 1966. François cultivated his passion for the art of Pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop, Au Nid des Friandises on the Riviera. He grew up surrounded by delicious, classic French pastries; a tradition carried on by his parents and grandparents for over fifty years.
After honing his skills in classic Pastry by his family’s side, François moved to Paris, where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations. His talent and originality earned him positions in several of France’s finest kitchens. In 1988, François held his first position as Pastry Chef in Paris at the Three Michelin-starred La Tour d’Argent. The following year, he became Pastry Chef in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at the Three Michelin-starred Lucas Carton. In these renowned restaurants, he met the challenge of creating dessert menus worthy of a three-star Michelin rating.
Throughout his career, Francois has received many honors. François’ desire to travel and discover new cultures brought him to New York in 1990, where he was eager to experiment with new ideas, flavors, and techniques. His first position in New York as Pastry Chef at the Four-Star Le Bernardin challenged him to create a new dessert repertoire. Francois became known for his beautifully presented creations, bursting with unique flavors and balanced taste.
In 1993, François joined Chef Daniel Boulud to open the Four-Star Restaurant Daniel, where he delighted guests with his chocolate and seasonal fruit menus. In 1995, The James Beard Foundation named François "Pastry Chef of the Year" to recognize his accent on flavor combined with a unique sense of pastry design.
In August of 1997, François' childhood dream of opening his restaurant, Payard Patisserie, became a reality. There, François strived to innovate, perfect, educate, and contribute his ideas and passion to the pastry field. Payard Patisserie was considered one of Manhattan's finest culinary destinations throughout its 12-year run.
In 1998, François was awarded "Pastry Chef of the Year" by the Bon Appétit Food & Entertainment Awards and again in 2001 by the International Pastry Competition Committee – Beaver Creek. In July 2004, the French Government honored François with the prestigious Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Medal of Honor. In 2005, he received the Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world. In 2006, he was selected as a member of Relais Desserts International, a professional association of the 85 Best Pastry Chefs in the world, and in 2010, he was honored with the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence.
More recently, François was awarded Chef of the Year in 2015 at Las Vegas Food & Wine and received City Harvest's Award of Excellence in 2016. Francois has opened bakeries and patisseries at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and multiple locations in Manhattan, Japan, and Korea.
Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks "Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining," Simply Sensational Desserts," "Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone" and "Payard Desserts."
Francois has recently taken the helm at Brasserie Estuary in cooperation with the ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, Brooklyn's gateway to New York Harbor, which opens summer of 2019.
From 2020 to 2022, Francois helped open one of his best friends, Tony Fortuna's T-Bar in the Hamptons. Knowing Covid was at its peak presented a considerable challenge, but everything went well; he was armed with a great team and working with his friend Tony.
As he navigated through the Hamptons, he was asked by chef John Fraser to help him open "The General" in Southold, NY. A new concept inspired by a more LA scene with five different menus. Working with John was fun and a breeze by simplifying his idea of farm to table and finding tremendous success.
Francois is highly sought after as a culinary consultant by restaurateurs and pastry chefs around the globe and is at work on an exciting new publishing project.
This year Francois is entirely in charge of the General in Southold, NY, and will soon open a wine store featuring many local and NY state wines along with wine pairings and tapas for the wine bar. Many other culinary surprises to come. Stay tuned!