Bravo just announced the contestants for the first ever season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. The list includes not one, but THREE ICE alumni! Zac Young (Pastry ’06), Malika Ameen (Culinary ’97) and Seth Caro (Pastry ’04) will all compete on the show. We can’t wait to watch them whip, bake, pipe and decorate their way through the challenges on the new pastry-focused version of Top Chef. The show will be hosted by another ICE alum, Gail Simmons. Check out the bios of the pastry chef-testants:
HOMETOWN: Portland, Maine — currently resides in New York, NY
PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, Flex Mussels
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: “Upside-Down” Apple Crisp with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream.
While employed in the wig department of the Radio City Rockettes, Zac Young had an epiphany: he would rather be baking cookies than fluffing Santa beards. Born to a vegan mother, Zac never had chocolate mousse, but knew all too well the flavor of a tofu and carob pudding. After graduating with honors from the baking and pastry arts program at The Institute of Culinary Education, Zac went straight to the top, working under Sebastian Rouxel and Richard Capizzi at Bouchon Bakery. In 2006, he was offered a position of Pastry Chef at the New York City hot-spot Butter Restaurant. While there, Zac developed his signature style, using classic French technique, bold flavors, and fun to put a creative twist on American desserts. Always hungry for more, he trained in France with such renowned chefs as Philippe Givre at Valrhona and Philippe Parc at Chocolate Michel Cluizel. In 2009, Zac moved uptown to the bustling bivalve mecca Flex Mussels. His whimsical creations caught the fancy of New York Times’ Restaurant Critic Frank Bruni, causing him to exclaim, “how lucky of us to find room for dessert” in his review of Flex. In his free time, he can be seen making dresses out of chocolate for the opening night of the International Chocolate Show. His mother is proud, even though his desserts are not vegan.
HOMETOWN: Chappaqua, NY — currently resides in New York, NY
PROFESSION: Pastry Chef
Growing up in suburban New York, Seth Caro was predisposed to the arts from an early age, gravitating as a child towards music and drawing. Initially entering the kitchen in his teenage years as a short order cook, his serious culinary aspirations took shape only as he developed a fascination with modern pastry arts. Since then, Seth’s journey has taken him through an eclectic array of galleys, including those of Nobu, Chanto, Perilla and Atria. Constantly pushing himself to expand his pantry of ingredients and his arsenal of techniques, his cooking remains rooted in a very simple and honest love for food. Seth sums up his culinary viewpoint, “Cooking is a celebration of nature and of ourselves. My best memories are colored with tastes and smells, and now when I cook for someone, I hope to provide them with a few new memories of their own.”
HOMETOWN: Chicago, IL
PROFESSION: Pastry Chef/Consultant, ByM desserts
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Concord Grape Sorbet, Pecan Crisp and Ginger Caramel
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Malika Ameen’s cooking inspiration comes from two things: ingredients and people. She believes that beautiful, delicious food brings people together. She is also passionate about traveling, as it often opens her eyes to new ingredients, techniques and flavor combinations. A single mother of three boys, Malika is always incorporating her “chef thinking” into the foods she cooks daily for her children, in order to “open up their palates and make eating as exciting for them as it is for me.” The five ingredients she keeps on hand at all times are candied citrus, dried lavender, vanilla bean sugar, green cardamom pods and bittersweet chocolate.
We can’t what to see what drama will unfold for these alumni on the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. Best of luck, Zac, Seth and Malika!