Keegan Gerhard Bio

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.

Next Up

Anne Burrell Bio

With her trademark spiky blond hair and pumped-up personality, Anne Burrell has worked at some of the top restaurants in New York and studied the culinary landscape and traditions of Italy. Anne makes restaurant dishes accessible and reveals concise, easy-to-master techniques for the at-home cook on her Food Network series Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. On her show Chef Wanted, Anne helps top restaurateurs find candidates with the right experience and creativity to become executive chefs. On Worst Cooks in America, Anne joins Tyler Florence in mentoring teams of hopeless home cooks from around the country, putting them through culinary boot camp. In 2011, Anne published her first cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star, which gives home cooks the confidence and support to be rock stars in their own kitchens. Her cookbook earned a place on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2013, Anne released her second cookbook, Own Your Kitchen. Growing up in upstate New York, Anne developed a passion for food and cooking at an early age. After obtaining an English and communications degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, she pursued her interest in the restaurant business by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America. Following graduation, she spent a year in Italy attending the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners while working at La Taverna del Lupo in Umbria and La Bottega del' 30, a Michelin one-star restaurant in Tuscany. During this year, Anne grew to truly appreciate and understand the philosophy of Italian cuisine and culture, which left a lasting impact on her culinary point of view. Upon her arrival in New York City, Anne was hired as a sous chef at Felidia, working with Lidia Bastianich. She then served as a chef at Savoy, where she cooked over an open wood fire and created flavorful menus inspired by Mediterranean countries. Here Anne developed her personal culinary style: rustic food made with pure and simple ingredients with intense flavors. Anne then took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education. After three years, Anne went back to the restaurant business, serving as the executive chef at Lumi. As the executive chef at New York hot spot Centro Vinoteca from its opening in July 2007 through September 2008, Anne served up her "creative-authentic" Italian menu of small plates (piccolini), antipasti, pastas and main courses accented by her trademark bold, pure flavors.

Aida Mollenkamp Bio

With a diverse culinary background and a passion for sharing her knowledge with food enthusiasts, cooking expert Aida Mollenkamp prepares delicious dishes while providing answers to questions submitted by Food Network viewers in her interactive cooking show, Ask Aida. From recipe and ingredient issues to advice on kitchen machinery and tools, Aida even offers guidance for impromptu parties, feeding a crowd, make-ahead dishes, and time-saving tips. Growing up with an Italian-American mother and a French stepmother, Aida was always surrounded by good food. Eventually, she made her way into the kitchen and discovered her true passion for cooking. In the years since, Aida has worked everywhere from a gourmet deli and California Pizza Kitchen to the Hotel Bel Air and, most recently, at CHOW.com. Having studied Hospitality Management at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Aida worked at Ernst & Young in Hotel and Restaurant Consulting before traveling to Europe to attend culinary school at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She lived between Florence, Italy and Paris, France for two years, and graduated with a Grand Diplôme in 2004. In January 2005, Aida joined the editorial staff at San Francisco-based CHOW.com, a Web site created for food and drink enthusiasts. As the Food Editor, Aida fulfills many roles. She regularly appears in instructional videos for the site, serves as an expert spokesperson, runs the test kitchen, works as a lead food stylist, develops recipes, and writes informative articles. When not working, Aida continues to live the life of a food fiend, whether hunting out the hottest restaurants, searching for the newest artisanal products, or hosting her friends and family at laidback dinner parties and lively cocktail hours. She currently resides in San Francisco.

Ree Drummond Bio

Ree Drummond is the host of The Pioneer Woman.

Richard Blais Bio

Most recognizable as the winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, Richard Blais has played an influential role in hospitality for the last 15 years. He began his career, as so many young aspiring chefs do, as the "poissonnier" at McDonald's. It was here that he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving Filet-O-Fish sandwiches sans top bun. His developing passion for food and the service industry led Richard to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. As an ambitious student, he spent time between semesters studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., under renowned Chef Thomas Keller and alongside then-rising stars Grant Achatz and Eric Ziebold. Upon graduating from the CIA in 1998, Richard ventured to New York for the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Boulud at his famous flagship, Restaurant Daniel. Richard then followed his professional compass to Roses, Spain, where he completed a brief stage at El Bulli with culinary wizard Ferran Adrià. In 2000 Richard relocated to Atlanta to oversee a local seafood concept. His wildly creative approach to cooking and cuisine led to the establishment of Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed and operated some of Atlanta's most-popular eateries, including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique and HD-1. He recently launched The Spence, a restaurant concept in midtown Atlanta, and opened Juniper & Ivy, in San Diego, where he offers a refined approach to American cuisine and showcases the seasonal and local ingredients of California. In Richard's debut cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, he reveals a simplified approach to adventurous cooking by sharing new flavor combinations and textures to reinvent home cooks' classic dishes. Each of the 125 recipes is straightforward enough to make at home, but for those who want to try using liquid nitrogen or a sous-vide machine, Richard offers fun variations on his recipes that add another level of excitement in the kitchen. Try This at Home was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 in the Cookbook: General Cooking category. In December 2013 Richard appeared as the host of a brand-new television program entitled Cook Your Ass Off. The show, which aired on the HLN network, is a transformational culinary contest that focuses on the health struggles of everyday people. Talented chef contestants are pitted against each other in a three-round competition to transform daily indulgences into healthy and delicious meals. Richard has also appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as in numerous publications, including The New York Times, InStyle and Food & Wine magazine.

Latest Stories