Teachers

Chocolate Academy Team

We train more than 500 people every week

 In addition to our technical advisors, the teaching staff at the CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ centers regularly includes Ambassadors who are among the leading professionals throughout the world. We ensure all courses reflect the latest artisanal techniques and product design.

USA, Chicago

Alexandra Foster
Alexandra Foster
Chef
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago

Assistant Technical Advisor of the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy Center in Chicago

Alexandra comes from the beautiful state of Michigan. She received her Hospitality Business degree at Michigan State University. During her hospitality internships at M.S.U. she became interested in the world of pastry. After graduation she attended the French Pastry School in Chicago, where she interned for the L’Art de la Patisserie and L’Art du Gateau programs. Alex went on to work at NoMI Restaurant in the Park Hyatt Chicago, where she worked under Chef Frederic Moreau. During that time NoMI received 1 star Michelin. She is now excited to be apart of the Academy team and work with talented chefs.

Jérôme Landrieu
Jérôme Landrieu
Chef

Director of the Barry Callebaut CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ center in Chicago

After receiving his certification in pastry and chocolate, Chef Landrieu worked at multiple highly esteemed sweet shops and restaurants in France. He studied under three MOF chefs, enabling him to perfect his craft. Chef Landrieu’s passion for excellence led him to begin teaching at the Superior National School of Confectionery and Pastry and The Bellouet Conseils School, a prestigious Parisian school for the art of desserts. He has won two first prizes in sugar artistry, and 2nd prize for artistry at Chocolat by Pascal Caffet in Troyes, 2006. He was also a substitute for Team France at The Pastry World Cup, won first prize for tasting selection at Salon du Chocolat in Paris,and finished in the pastry semifinals at the 2007 Meilleur Ouvrier de France Competition. Most recently he was selected as Dessert Professional’s 2011 Top 10 Best Pastry Chefs in America and has been featured in multiple issues of So Good magazine. At the Chicago Chocolate Academy, Chef Landrieu is in charge of sharing knowledge about chocolate and desserts.

PHILOSOPHY

"My philosophy is to always use the best products and techniques to create on-trend desserts. Unpretentious, elegant, generous and enticing are the key words of my pastry and such is my challenge every day. Welcome to my sweet universe..."

Jose Castellanos
Jose Castellanos
Chef
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago

Assistant Technical Advisor of the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy Center in Chicago

Born in Mexico City, Chef Castellanos arrived in Chicago to attend the Robert Morris University where he finished his Associate in Applied Science Degree - Culinary Arts. He then attended The French Pastry School in Chicago where he finished the L’Art de la Pâtisserie program. Following his studies, Chef Castellanos worked as an Assistant Pastry Chef at the Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook, IL. H and the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago in 2008. At the Chicago Chocolate Academy, Chef Castellanos works as an Assistant Technical Advisor, under Chef Jerome Landrieu and Chef Celine Plano. He assistants them in developing recipes and instructing classes.

Mark Seaman
Mark Seaman
Chef

Certified Master Sugar Artist

Chef Mark Seaman is a Technical Advisor at Barry Callebaut North America. His extensive knowledge in sugar artistry and cake decorating has been invaluable to the team at the Chocolate Academy in Chicago, IL. As part of the impressive technical team for the Chocolate Academy, Chef Seaman interacts with pastry chefs, chocolatiers, and bakers from all over the world to develop innovative chocolate creations.

Prior to joining Barry Callebaut, Chef Seaman was an Instructor at the renowned French Pastry School in Chicago, IL. There he taught courses on cake decorating, focusing on his specialty, wedding cakes. Chef Seaman continues to inspire cake decorators by participating as a judge in wedding cake competitions around the United States. In addition, he is an Adjudicator for Sugar Artist Certification by ICES, the International Cake Exploration Societé.

Chef Seaman is best known for the exclusive, appointment-only wedding cake boutique that he owned in Chicago, IL from 2000-2009. There he created one-of-a-kind wedding cakes for brides and grooms from all over the country. Chef Seaman has been recognized for his craftsmanship with several prestigious awards and accolades. In 2013 he was honored by Dessert Professional Magazine as one of the Top Ten Cake Designers in North America. Chef Seaman’s beautiful cakes have been featured on The Food Network, HGTV, the Travel Channel, ABC 7 Chicago, and TLC.

Chef Seaman’s skills are not limited to cakes and sugar. He also owned a full-line retail bakery in Libertyville, IL. This business venture led him to have a stronger appreciation for chocolate. Chef Seaman has said that for him “chocolate is one of those things that is so ubiquitous that it is easy to overlook its subtleties...subtleties of flavor, texture, and eye appeal. As a professional cake stylist, I like to incorporate chocolate as a detail so as to shine a light on these subtleties”.

Russ Thayer
Chef
         As the lead chef for the Chocolate Academy™ Online, Chef Russ Thayer curates the curriculum and leads the chefs who contribute to its content. He himself specializes in modern confections based on traditional techniques, while also having a robust knowledge of pastry as a whole. Russ is also a classically trained savory chef, however it is the technical accuracy and attention to detail in pastry and confections that fascinates him.
 
Prior to joining the Barry-Callebaut group, he was the Pastry Chef at PreGel America, and before this, he worked as a Pastry Chef for the Ritz-Carlton hotel group. He has also held Pastry Chef positions in several prestigious private clubs. Russ is a graduate of both the Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Russ has won numerous gold medals in ACF sponsored pastry competitions as well as being a finalist in Cacao-Barry’s L’Art du Chocolatier Challenge 2012.
 
Chef Russ joined the Chicago Chocolate Academy™ team in 2014 to further his dedication for research and innovation. In 2018, Chef Russ relocated to Montreal, Canada to become the Lead Chef for the Chocolate Academy™ Online. His strong desire to work with the best pastry chefs in the industry continues to push him forward.