Jimmy MacMillan – Executive Pastry Chef/Pastry Consultant at JMPurePastry
Featured Chef in the 2012 Vanilla Vine, Issue #2
Chef Jimmy MacMillan was nice enough to share his recipe for macaroons with Nielsen-Massey and guests at our 2012 Summer Ice Cream Social, but that’s not the only reason why he’s the featured chef in this issue of the Vanilla Vine. His incredible credentials, beautifully crafted and delicious desserts, and overall great attitude have landed him as one of our favorite pastry chefs!
Chef MacMillan owns his own company, JMPurePastry, while also working as the Executive Pastry Chef at the exclusive University Club of Chicago overseeing all baking and pastry operations including three restaurants: Cathedral Hall, Front Grill and The Gallery. He has also worked at esteemed establishments such as Avenues and The Peninsula Chicago, The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, The Driskill Hotel in Austin, The Houstonian Hotel Club and Spa in Houston, The Conrad Hotel in Indianapolis, and The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. As if his resume wasn’t an impressive mouthful, this super-chef has studied his craft at world-renowned schools like Ecole Nationale Seperiéure de Pâstisserie in Yssingeaux, France; The French Pastry School in Chicago, U.S.; The Chocolate Academy in Zurich, Switzerland, and St. Hyacinthe, Canada; and at Aula Chocovic in Barcelona, Spain. He was also honored in 2011 as a Rising Star of Chicago by StarChefs.com and nominated for a James Beard Award in 2009.
So how did he become interested in the culinary arts in the first place—his mom. He explained that he cooked a lot as a child while growing up in Detroit, Michigan. He and his siblings were assigned different tasks to help with making dinner. However, MacMillan didn’t intend on making cooking his profession; music, he said, came first. And while he toured as a younger man with his band, he kept a job in a restaurant back home. Something he could always come back to.
After his band split, he moved to Texas. It was then that he realized that he could make his way in the culinary industry by combining his love for art with his culinary background. “When I walked into The Four Seasons (in Austin), they hired me on the spot. There, in 1996, I realized the high art of food and dessert. Art and food came together for me,” he explained. “Being a chef isn’t too different from beinga musician or an artist. I’ve been working with materials my whole life; sculpture, painting, instruments.”
If you have visited Chef MacMillan’s website, you would have noticed his vibrant display of beautifully crafted desserts. “Presentation, the visual display and arrangement, of the desserts is very important. It is enjoyable to watch the diner become elated by seeing a colorful, creative sweet. Taste is equal and must somehow deliver on what the presentation promised. At JMPurePastry our work is always about possibilities and must always be stunning, beautiful and surprising,” Chef MacMillan said.
Chef MacMillan gathers his inspiration right from the ingredients he uses. He explained, “We get inspiration from everything around us. Sourcing uniquely crafted or rare, but divine, ingredients is an ongoing passion.” Chef MacMillan also looks to high-quality Nielsen-Massey products to make his desserts applause worthy. Chef MacMillan said, “We use Tahitian and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans in our gelatos, cakes and plated desserts. Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract goes into almost every bakery product, and we also use the Almond, Lemon, Peppermint and Chocolate Extracts.” And he uses Nielsen-Massey products for a reason. “Most of the pastry chefs I worked under early in my career used Nielsen-Massey Vanilla. It’s our vanilla of choice, exclusively,” he explained. And lending a tip to the readers, he said, “Vanilla will enhance and give background to even subtle ingredients. Nielsen-Massey Vanilla will add dimension to your food.”
So there you have it. He loves us, and we totally love him too! And to show our love, Nielsen-Massey is taking part in sponsoring his upcoming event, The Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition, which takes place this September.
To find out more about this competition, visit the Facebook page for The Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition. To find out more about Chef Jimmy MacMillan and his company, visit www.JMPurePastry.com, and follow him on Twitter @JMPurePastry and his wife, Julie MacMillan, @Pastrywife.