In charge of all things sweet for JFRestaurants, Sébastien Rouxel demystifies the complexities of pastry, marrying innovation, tradition and bringing a breath of modernity to time honored-desserts with sophisticated diners in mind. A veteran of top-flight kitchens in Europe and America, he brings a worldly perspective and a wealth of international experience. In addition to his efforts to bridge the past and present of classical pastry, Rouxel believes that the sweet and savory sides of the kitchen should share a singular mindset to execute on the highest level.
Growing up in the Loire Valley, France, a young Rouxel felt right at home at his aunt’s restaurant, a small brasserie where he began working in at the age of 12. At 16, he took on a cooking internship at Le Jardin de la Forges, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Champtoceaux. Quickly narrowing in on pâtisserie as his primary focus, Rouxel earned his mastery diploma from Au Péché Mignon in Nantes.
In satisfaction of France’s then-compulsory military service, Rouxel was selected to oversee the pastry team at Paris’ Mess of Élysée Palace, the official residence of the French president. This position in particular taught him the art of teamwork, dicipline and commitment which deeply informs the thoughtful leadership approach he takes.
Looking to move up in Paris, Rouxel landed at the historic Le Grand Véfour, an influential three- star Michelin establishment open since the 1700s. After rising to the position of head pastry chef, Rouxel decided to travel and work abroad, he got the opportunity to do so in the United States for a pastry chef position at L’Orangerie in Los Angeles.
In 1997, Rouxel moved to his current home city of New York to work for chef Andre Soltner at Lutece. Two years later, a chance encounter with Thomas Keller led him to The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Rouxel was hired as the Laundry’s executive pastry chef, working at the Michelin three-star for five years before returning to New York to open Keller’s Per Se.
Rouxel would spend the next 15 years in Keller’s orbit, he quickly became known for creating dessert menus with unusual flavor combinations designed to perfectly complement Keller’s distinctive cuisine. Overseeing openings in California, New York and Las Vegas and contributing to two cookbooks, Under Pressure and Bouchon Bakery, both New York Times best-sellers. During this time, he also earned multiple accolades, including In 2005, he was named a “Rising Starchef” and in 2006 and 2008 awarded “Best Pastry Chef in America” nods from Pastry Art & Design.
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In 2014 Rouxel joined Stephen Starr. As integral part of the STARR team, he made an immediate contributions across the company’s spectrum, contributing training, creative guidance and recipe development to Upland, with chef Justin Smillie; The Clocktower, with chef Jason Atherton; Le Coucou, with Daniel Rose and many more.