Born in Nice on July 16th, 1966, François Payard is a third generation French Pastry Chef. He cultivated his passion for the art of pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop on the Riviera, Au Nid des Friandises. François grew up surrounded by the delicious classic French pastry in the tradition carried on by his parents and grandparents for over fifty years.
After honing his skills in classic pastry by his family’s side, François moved to Paris where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations. Their taste, texture and originality opened new horizons in his career. François’s dedication and passion earned him positions in several of France’s finest kitchens. In 1988, Payard held his first position as Pastry Chef in Paris at La Tour d’Argent. The following year, he went on to become Pastry Chef in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. In these renowned restaurants, he met the challenge of creating dessert menus worthy of a three star Michelin rating.
François’s desire to travel and discover new sights, smells, and flavors brought him to New York in 1990. Here, he was eager to experiment with new ideas, flavors, and techniques that he felt would be welcomed in the capital of cosmopolitan tastes. His first position in New York was as Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, a New York Times four-star restaurant, where he found himself challenged to create a new dessert repertoire. François became popular for his beautifully presented creations, bursting with delicate flavors and taste. In 1993, François Payard joined Chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of Restaurant Daniel, another restaurant given four stars by the New York Times, where he delighted guests with his chocolate and seasonal fruit menus. In 1995, The James Beard Foundation named François “Pastry Chef of the Year” in recognition of his accent on flavor combined with a unique sense of pastry design.
In August of 1997, François’ childhood dream of opening his own restaurant became a reality. At the Lexington Avenue bistro, François strived to innovate and perfect his work while contributing his ideas and passion to the field of pastry. The establishment closed its doors the first week of July 2009, due to the loss of its lease after having been considered one of Manhattan’s finest culinary destinations for 12 years.
François was acknowledged in 1998 for his outstanding achievements by being awarded “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the Bon Appétit Food & Entertainment Awards and again in 2001 by the International Pastry Competition Committee-Beaver Creek. In July of 2004, The French Government honored François with the prestigious Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Medal of Honor by the French Government. And in 2005, he received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding wine lists of any restaurant on the globe as well as being selected in 2006 as a member of Relais Desserts International a professional association of the 85 Best Pastry Chefs in the World. François was also honored in 2010 with the Dom Pérignon Award Of Excellence, which recognizes outstanding leadership, character, and work ethic in the hospitality industry.
Branches of Payard, the bistro, opened at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Japan and Korea. In November 2009, he opened the François Chocolate Bar. Described as “a chocolate jewelry shop,” the highly praised establishment offers an exquisite experience in tasting fine chocolates.
In September 2010, François opened FPB, a casual bakery on West Houston Street in downtown New York City, where guests can enjoy a variety of sweet and savory selections in an inviting, casual setting. FPB is the first of several collaborative projects from François and restaurateur Marlon Abela of Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC), whose portfolio also includes the A Voce restaurants in New York City , as well as other restaurants in the U.S. and London. A second location of FPB opened in Battery Park City in October 2012 and a third location opened in spring of 2012 at 3 Columbus Circle (58th Street).
Finally, François opened his flagship store on New York's Upper East Side at 1293 3rd Avenue (at 74th street). It is a Patisserie, Bar and Bistro, bringing back some of the great delights from the original Payard.
Not just a chef, François is also the author of the popular cookbooks “Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining”, Simply Sensational Desserts” and “Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone”. His fourth book, “Payard Desserts” was recently released in the fall of 2013.
François is also a member of the City Harvest Food Council, which brings together over 75 of New York City's top chefs, restaurateurs and food industry professionals to aid in the fight against hunger.
We welcome you to discover and delight in François’ favorite confections reminiscent of his grandfather’s days.