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.

Dimitri Fayard
Dimitri Fayard
Chef
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago

Chef Fayard earned his Cuisine and Pastry Degree at the Lycée Pardailhan in Auch, France.  In 1998, he made his way to the USA where worked for François Payard at his New York City Shop, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and at the Ritz-Carlton Corporate Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2002 he helped open the Hotel Sofitel Water Tower in Chicago. With his wife Keli, he opened the upscale French pastry shop Vanille Påtisserie the following year, specializing in tarts, entremets, chocolate candies, breakfast pastries and wedding cakes.

Most recently, Chef Fayard started sharing his experience and passion with the students of the French Pastry School, teaching a section of the program dedicated to cakes, tarts and entremets. 

Awards

* Admitted as Academician into the Académie Culinaire de France in 2009
Voted Top 10 Best Pastry Chef in the US by Pastry Arts & Design Magazine 2007
* Team USA World Pastry Championship (Competiting August 2008)
* Silver Medal - Overall - National Pastry Championship - 2003
* Gold Medal - Overall - Southern Pastry Classic - 2001
* Gold Medal - Showpiece - Southern Pastry Classic - 2001
* Gold Medal - Chocolate Cake - Southern Pastry Classic - 2001
* 3rd Place - Apprentice Competition - Festival D'Occitanie 1997

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”.

Martin Diez
Chef

Martin is employed as Chef Chocolatier and Patissier at our CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ center in France and is qualified in the study of pastry, confectionery, chocolaterie and icecream. Having been a member of the highly skilled artisan guild 'Tour de France des Compagnon de Devoir' for several years he has worked in many prestigious pastry and chocolate shops in France, namely the 'Patisserie Antoine' situated in Bordeaux. More recently he was International Technical Advisor with Patisfrance.

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.
Christophe Morel
Christophe Morel
Guest teacher

Master Chocolatier and Pastry Chef - Chocolate Ambassador’s Club Member

Born in France, Christophe comes from a family of pastry chefs. At a young age, he took classes and became a pastry chef and chocolatier. His passion for chocolate and his knowledge of blending flavours, coupled with his talent and creativity propelled him into the limelight. Recipient of numerous honours such as the Grand Prix Canadien de la Chocolaterie in 2003 and the Coupe du Monde de Pâtisserie de Lyon in 2005, he continues to dazzle the eye and treat the palate. Savouring a chocolate concocted by Christophe Morel is offering oneself a delicious moment of pleasure. Chef Morel was selected to represent Canada in the last two World Chocolate Masters competitions.

Frank Haasnoot
Guest teacher

Frank Haasnoot is a Dutch pastry chef. With over over 23 years’ experience, he is currently working as a freelance consultant.

Post completing his education, Frank started working for several pastry brands around the globe. Frank has worked in Holland, New York (La Tulipe Desserts), Kuwait (the Victorian), Taiwan (Mandarin Oriental Hotel) and Hong Kong (the Peninsula Hotel).

He has been a part of multiple national and international Pastry Competitions. In 2011, he was the winner of the World Chocolate Masters in Paris.

It was in mid 2017 that Frank decided to move back to Europe and start his freelance career to be able to teach and develop his work freely.

Jérôme Landrieu
Jérôme Landrieu
Guest teacher

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..."

Jeffrey Cagnes
Guest teacher
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago

Stohere, the oldest patisserie in Paris, was founded in 1730 by King Louis XV's pastry chef, Nicolas Stohrer.  Still located rue Montorgueil, this establishment has taken on mythical qualities over time.  Now listed as a historical site, it's lavis decor was designed by a student of Paul Baudry, who decorated the Opera Garnier.

 

Century after century this mecca for both sweet and savory delicacies, where everything is prepared in-house, has offered the best of French classical pastry. Rum babas (invented by Nicolas Stohrer himself) puits d'amour, old-fashioned religieuses, exceptional vol-au-vent.

 

The Dolfi family, who owns the house, is faithful to tradition and wishes to keep the spirit of Stohrer alive, relying on its incomparable legacy and the know how of head pastry chef Jeffrey Cagnes.

Kirsten Tibballs
Guest teacher

Kirsten Tibballs is one of Australia’s most respected and talented chocolate and pastry chefs, and runs the Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School with fellow expert Paul Kennedy. This diminutive pocket-rocket won the 2004 World Championships for her hand made chocolates and was also awarded a gold medal for her chocolates in the Pastry Olympics in Germany that same year. Here in Australia, Kirsten has also won numerous awards and competitions and regularly travels the world to participate as a judge in chocolate and patisserie events, teach others her skills and gather new ideas and techniques to bring back to use at her school in Melbourne.

Romain Dufour
Guest teacher
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago

Romain Dufour knew from an early age that he wanted to be a baker. He was inspired by his uncle who owned his own bakery in a small town near Bourges, France and where Romain apprenticed for 2 years. He knew that it could be back breaking with long hours, rising in the dark well before dawn. But, the sweet aromas and the kinship of working together to create delicious pleasures had been born. Soon Romain’s imagination and drive, led him out of this small town. He wanted to take on the new challenge of baking for hotels, the opportunity for travel and to continue to learn as much as possible. 

Romain attended the Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie de Paris, earning 2 diplomas in four years. For his second diploma, Romain was hired at the renowned Plaza Athenee Hotel in Paris, under the direction of Christophe Michalak, World Champion of Pastry. This experience honed Romain’s sense of rigor, his creativity and attention to detail.

After two years at the hotel, wanting to travel and see the world, Romain decided to leave Paris and headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates where he worked for 6 years. He was initially hired as the head baker for a start-up French bakery before being recruited to the Intercontinental Hotel where he was Head Baker for three years. When the opportunity to learn a different facet of baking production arose, he took it becoming Executive Head Baker for Bateel, a fine craft bakery. Here he was exposed to different artisan products and processes on a higher scale.

Finally, in 2016, Romain arrived in Chicago, as the R&D Master Baker for Problend-Eurogerm, a French/American company specializing in dough conditioners, bread mixes and pastry mixes. In this role, he brings together his high-end baker training, extensive production experience and innate creativity to develop new, clean label recipes for an impressive list of notable clients within the dynamic food industry.

 

@romaindufour

 
Yann Migault
Cacao Barry Chef
Teaches in:
USA, Chicago