I grew up in Chicago and was around food at a very early age in the kitchen with my Mom as she prepared our meals. We had a big extended family with lots of cousins and we would have old European meals and holiday dinners at my grandparent’s house where again I was always hanging out in the kitchen with my Bubbe (grandmother). I loved everything they made and when they asked me to help I knew where my path would take me one day.
While in high school, I decided that traditional college was not for me as I was more into music and food. I discussed the idea of going to culinary school with my mom and she was thrilled with the idea. At the time, the best school in Chicago was Dumas Pere L’Ecole de la Cuisine Francaise. Upon graduation, I was awarded a rare apprenticeship working side by side with Master Chef Snowden in the restaurant kitchen as well as taking responsibility for class instruction.
I started my Chef career working at some of the finest restaurants in Chicago in the 1980’s, becoming Executive Chef of one of the city's finest seafood restaurants -Tango - and then became the Executive Pastry Chef for the French chain L’Amanguier (based in Paris) at their Chicago location. I then went on to become Executive Pastry Chef for a Private Country Club in Glenview. One of my finest culinary experiences was working with, and becoming close friends with, Patrick Chabert and Jean Banchet of the renowned Le Francaise restaurant in Wheeling, IL. We had a lot of fun working private parties in Chicago for the old patrons of the now closed Le Francaise. It was an honor to work with Chef Jean Banchet before his passing, as many of the top Chefs in America have gone through his acclaimed restaurant, and I feel fortunate to have stayed close friends with Chef Patrick. Another wonderful experience was when I worked with my close friend Chef Michael Washer and Wolfgang Puck for Oprah's 50th Birthday Party at Harpo Studios in Chicago, along with her chef at the time, Chef Art Smith, and as a James Beard House-featured Pastry Chef working with my dear friend Pastry Chef Cyril Chaminade of Le Petit Coquin.
I left the kitchens for a while after my daughter Chelsea was born so I could spend more quality time with her growing up instead of enduring the crazy hours of the restaurant business. I was offered a job with a friend whose company supplied high-end specialty food products for restaurants in the Midwest. After a short while, he asked me if I would help him start a pastry division for the company. We would fly to Europe and meet with the top manufacturers for the pastry world and add their products to the company to distribute to Pastry Chefs and Chefs alike.
This is when I took on additional technical training via companies such as:
- Valrhona chocolate
- Cacao Barry chocolate
- Capfruit - and many others
I studied with Master Pastry Chefs Pascal Janvier, Joel Bellouet, Patrick Chevallot Frederic Bau and Jean-Pierre Wybauw, among others.
As I promoted these premium lines of Pastry ingredients to all the Chefs and Pastry Chefs, I often took my daughter Chelsea with me and she loved it! The Chefs would often feed her items that little kids normally wouldn’t eat, like Foie gras, pate, seafood mousse, duck and other exotic items. She still has fond memories of that time and made some Chef friends.
I conducted special pastry classes with some of the best Master Pastry Chefs throughout the years and enjoy life long relationships with them. We also took Chefs to France for advanced classes at such renowned schools as Valrhona, Patisfrance, Cacao Barry, Ravifruit and Capfruit.
In addition, I worked with another company in Bologna, Italy as Midwest and West Coast Manager for pastry and gelato ingredients which led me to my home in Arizona. Once again I conducted seminars and classes throughout the Midwest and West Coast demonstrating how to produce authentic Italian gelato. I was able to travel yet again with my now teenaged daughter in Italy.
I am very grateful for the friends I have made and enjoyed working alongside over my 30 plus years in the culinary field.
Today I am living and working in Tucson, AZ, producing my signature MACaroons and pastries.
I welcome you to my pastry company - Lorraine Patisserie, Famous MACaroons & More - named for my mother who is the main reason I became a chef. I honor her with everything I do in this wonderful family business of fine pastries. Enjoy!
Chef and Owner, Michael Cohen
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