Le Bernardin adopts menu changes with new pastry chef

The four-star New York City restaurant Le Bernardin has hired a new chef. With the departure of pastry chef Laurie Jon Moran, the restaurant has taken on chef Thomas Racquel. Students enrolled in pastry programs online will recognize a few of the famous restaurants that Racquel has listed on his resume, like L20 and Acadia in Chicago. Though only 27 years old, this pastry chef has acquired the experience of a much older baker.

Racquel began his cooking career at the age of 16. Heading off to college for a medical degree, the young freshman decided to take a pastry cooking class. Here, he discovered that baking was a different kind of science that intrigued him and he went on to graduate with a degree in culinary arts. Racquel wanted to learn pastry cooking from the best and traveled to France, where he had a job at the famous patisserie Pierre Herme. Upon returning to the United States, Racquel soon had his name at the top of the pastry chef ladder in many famous restaurants.

Well applauded
In 2012, Racquel won the Jen Banchet award for Rising Pastry Chef of the Year. His dedication to his craft continued under the strict guidance of Laurent Gras at L20​, where he was noted on the Zagat list of 30 under 30 in 2013. Racquel tends to like putting savory flavors in his desserts, combining sweet fruits with warm herbs. Apart from technique, it is a seasonal approach that rules over Racquel’s cooking.

He hopes to bring this style with him to Le Bernardin, where he will be in charge of a 12-person team. The job will be one of the most difficult undertakings he has ever faced, now serving a 400-seat restaurant that is open for both lunch and dinner. Before Le Bernardin, Racquel worked in restaurants that had 100-person caps and often only served dinner.

“To even be considered for the job was huge,” Racquel told the Zagat after he was hired. “And now, getting the job, I feel like I’m Charlie — I got the golden ticket.”

Racquel plans to add light dessert choices to the menu, including tarts and French pastries. When his first menu debuts in the fall, it will also contain a tasting menu with seasonal themes. These light dishes will surely complement the seafood fare for which Le Bernardin is famous.

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