Keegan Gerhard, named one of the nation's top 10 pastry chefs of 2002 and 2004 by both Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines, brings a wealth of experience and abundant competitive energy to his position as Executive Pastry Chef.
A one-time cyclist, Keegan originally pursued a career in culinary arts simply to have a mobile source of income that would allow him to train for the Olympics anywhere, any time. But convenience soon gave way to passion, as Keegan found himself running the kitchen of a French bistro in San Diego. The day he fired his pastry chef and took over, he discovered his true passion – and it has been a wild ride ever since.
Keegan set out to learn from the best, and worked as the assistant to the celebrated Master pastry chef, Jacquy Pfeiffer, the Alsace-born owner and founder of the French Pastry School in Chicago. Keegan describes this as more of an apprenticeship and awakening. Subsequent positions as Pastry Chef with Charlie Trotters Restaurant, the Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company ensued, as did a position as Corporate Pastry Chef for Dean and DeLuca and Executive Pastry Chef of Four Seasons Chicago. Keegan was a proud member of the opening team for Wynn Las Vegas and is now Corporate Pastry Chef for Las Vegas Gourmet Imports.
Keegan has an enthusiastic but controlled approach to pastries, "I like to stay away from things that are too contrived, and prefer to create desserts that are refined and elegant," he explains. "I sometimes compare pastries to jazz music: 70 percent is based on enduring principles or the foundation of the style, and then the great musicians give you the 30 percent which is a surprise."
When he's not preparing seasonal product-driven delicacies in the pastry shop, Keegan spends time organizing and serving as emcee for the National Pastry Team Championships, The World Pastry Team Championships and Food Network Challenge programs.
He has been featured numerous times on the Discovery Channel's Great Chefs of America, as well as the Travel Channel and CNN. For the 2001 Pastry World Cup, he served as technical advisor to Team USA, which brought home a gold medal. Keegan is the recipient of the 2003 Distinguished Visiting Pastry Chef award from Johnson & Wales University, and has received the Jean Banchet Culinary Excellence Award. Keegan has had the honor of participating in 5 different James Beard Dinners. His light, fresh fruit desserts have also been featured widely in A Neo-Classic View of Plated Desserts, Chocolatier, FoodArts, Pastry Art and Design and many other publications.