Johnny Iuzzini - Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

TENTH ANNUAL - SAVE THE DATE – OCTOBER 2-25, 2020

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Johnny Iuzzini

Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini - New York, NY

Chef Johnny Iuzzini, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, has held the title of Executive Pastry Chef at two of Manhattan’s most prestigious restaurants: Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Jean George and Chef Daniel Boulud’s Daniel. Johnny has received numerous accolades including “Best New Pastry Chef” by New York Magazine and “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America” by Pastry Art and Design Magazine. In 2006, The James Beard Foundation awarded Iuzzini “Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year” and Forbes.com identified him as one of the ten most influential chefs working in America.

Iuzzini has written two cookbooks, Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets From a Four-Star Pastry Chef, and Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking. He has also been a featured guest and judge on numerous television shows including Martha Stewart, Top Chef, Today Show, Good Morning America, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay, and Sugar Showdown. J Iuzzini was the head judge of Bravo’s “Top Chef Just Desserts” and co-judge of ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show”.

In 2017, Iuzzini realized his dream of making his own chocolate by launching Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini, creating delicious hand-made, single origin, bean-to-bar chocolates. Iuzzini gets beans directly from farms in the world’s best chocolate-producing regions and does the complete chocolate making process himself. His experience working in fine dining at the highest level for two decades gives him the competitive edge and the platform to create products unparalleled to anything else on the market today.



WHY DID YOU BECOME A CHEF?
At 15 years old, my dad told me that if I wanted money in my pocket to hang out with friends, I needed to get a job. All my friends were working as caddies at a local golf course, but by the time I turned 15 late in the year and got my working papers, all those jobs were taken and the only job left was as a pot washer. So I worked everyday after school, learned responsibility, was part of a team, and was exposed to the ability to create with my hands and mind. I worked my way up to a dishwasher and then to a prep cook. The chef liked me and took me with him to the next restaurant he moved to and continued to mentor me.
My interest in the pastry arts began at 17 when I started working at the River Cafe in Brooklyn, NY. Although my primary focus at the restaurant was in savory, I frequently visited the pastry kitchen to marvel as Pastry Chef Eric Gouteyron piped chocolate butterflies and bridges. As my fascination with pastry grew, I began assisting Chef Eric after completing my regular shifts in the kitchen. I eventually moved to pastry full-time and cemented my desire to pursue a career as a pastry chef.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING IN THREE WORDS?
Bold, adventurous, compelling.

WHAT’S THE BEST HONOR YOU’VE RECEIVED AS A CHEF?
I’ve been fortunate enough to earn many accolades, including a James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef, but my greatest honor will always be the recognition that comes from my mentees who have now become successful pastry chefs themselves.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL AFTER A BUSY DAY?
Ramen and soft boiled egg or a slice of Joe’s pizza on the way home.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
If I’m not in the kitchen, then I’m escaping the city to my cabin in the Catskill Mountains with my girlfriend, Gia, and our dog, June. I’m a country boy at heart and love being isolated outdoors, either hiking, riding my motorcycles or even mowing my lawn.

WHAT THE ONE LOCAL INGREDIENT YOU’RE EXCITED TO COOK WITH DURING HFWF19?
Kona Coffee is obviously an easy answer, but the craft bean to bar chocolate movement is also growing here and I am excited to taste it all. When I tasted a pineapple in Hawai’i the first time I couldn’t believe the flavor and have been wondering what I have been eating all my life. I’m still learning about all the amazing produce there and try to use something different every time I come.

WHAT KEEPS YOU RETURNING BACK TO THE ISLANDS?
Being from New York, Hawai’i has always been a bit too far, but remains the quintessential destination for breathtaking beauty. Once I finally made it there, I am always trying to find a way to get back. Its landscape, cuisine and hospitality make it second to none.

IF YOU WERE NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I definitely could never sit as a desk. I would be doing something creative with my hands — maybe a motorcycle fabricator or some sort of sculptor.