The Untold Truth Of Jacques Torres

When Season 6 of Emmy-nominated amateur baking competition "Nailed It!" premieres on September 15 (via Variety), the award-winning master pastry chef Jacques Torres will be back to judge the calamitous concoctions of the contestants whom Torres also mentors. Torres is known as "one of the most renowned chocolatiers and pastry chefs in the world" (via CNN) and helms a chocolate-making empire based in Brooklyn, New York — in general, he is said to accumulate $6.13 million in sales per year according to Dun & Bradstreet. As well, Torres has been a fixture on foodie television since 1998. That's when he debuted his beloved public television series, "Dessert Circus" (per American Archive). 

In the years since, Torres has hosted Food Network's "Chocolate with Jacques Torres" during its three-season run, according to Food Network, and he's made numerous appearances on such shows as "Cake Boss: Next Great Baker," says International Culinary Center, as well as "Top Chef," "Chopped," and "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" (via IMDb). However, Torres may be best known by television viewers for his work on "Nailed It!" if only because he has so much knowledge to impart to wannabe bakers, not to mention what appears to be a genuine interest in educating them, especially those with an interest in chocolate

So, how did Torres come to be so knowledgeable, and what else might this renowned chef have up his sleeve? Read on for the untold truth of Jacques Torres, also known to many around the world as "Mr. Chocolate."

Jacques Torres got an "early start" in more ways than one

Born in 1960, Jacques Torres spent his first three years in war-torn Algeria (via Biography) before his family fled to the South of France. Early on, Torres thought he'd grow up to be a carpenter, just like his dad, says CNN. But, by the time he was 15, he'd already embarked upon his career as a pastry chef with an apprenticeship at a highly regarded local pastry shop, according to his website. From there, Torres went on to earn his degree as "Master Pastry Chef," according to Culinary Schools and landed a job working for the Michelin-starred chef Jacques Maximin at Hotel Negresco in Nice, France, where he eventually rose through the ranks to become Executive Pastry Chef. 

At the same time, Torres was also embarking on a career as a master pastry teacher at a culinary school in Cannes while also studying his craft under his role model and inspiration, Lou Lou Franchain, with whom Torres credits for guiding him toward becoming the youngest pastry chef ever to win the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (M.O.F.) medal in pastry at just 26 (via Biography). Although he isn't even sure what motivated himself to accomplish so much and so quickly, the chef told CNN that he suspects it comes from having been born two months premature. "My friend says when you fight for your life early, it gives you that drive to keep going," Torres explained while recognizing the important role luck has played in his life as well.

The reason for Jacques Torres' deep love and affinity for chocolate

According to his website, Jacques Torres came to adore and respect chocolate during his years of training and working as a young pastry chef. That said, Torres has also suggested that it might have something to do with his love for his mother. As Torres has previously recounted, during his childhood, his mother (a house cleaner, per CNN), would "sneak" him pieces of the chocolate bars she'd sometimes purchase. Together, mother and son would "savor" the chocolate "in secret" (via Gothamist).

"For [Torres], chocolate was, and is, a simple pleasure, something that should be accessible to people of all ages and tastes — even babies," Gothamist explained in the article where their photographer was given a personal tour of Mr. Chocolate's 40,000-square-foot flagship factory in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. In fact, during that tour, Torres explained that his all-ages approach to the confectionary is what's behind his chocolate-covered cereal candy, just one of his chocolate company's many whimsical offerings.

Ultimately, it appears that Torres felt compelled to make his own because, as he says, someone needed to be setting the standard for artisanal chocolate (if not all chocolate), and no one else seemed to be doing it at the time (via CNN). In fact, it seems that's how Torres came to be the first New York chocolatier to start directly from the cocoa bean, making him "a pioneer in the bean-to-bar movement" (via his website).

Jacques Torres' commitment to molding the next generation of chefs is arguably unparalleled

You'd be hard-pressed to come up with any television cooking competition in which we have seen Jacques Torres appear as a competitor. This is not to say that Torres is not "competitive," nor is it that he hasn't entered a cooking competition before. Certainly, the M.O.F. that he entered and won when he was just 26 (via Biography) may well count as a one of the biggest competitions any chef can pursue. 

It's just that, nowadays, Torres would appear to prioritize his time as a pastry chef with an emphasis on directly shaping the next generation. This seems to have been Torres' priority historically as well. He was barely finished with culinary school himself when, in 1983, he began teaching pastry courses in Cannes, France, says the profile in Biography, and he would continue to do that for three more years. 

Then, within a year of beginning his job as Le Cirque's Executive Pastry Chef in 1989, Torres was already at work designing the New York City French Culinary Institute's Classic Pastry Arts program. That is now part of what is known as the International Culinary Center, of which Torres is Dean of Pastry Arts (via Culinary Schools). When he moved his chocolate-making business to its current space, it was designed to include a "hands-on classroom" where students of the International Culinary Center would spend 600 hours learning from Torres himself (via Gothamist). 

Jacques Torres is married to Madam Chocolat

Since 2007, Jacques Torres has been married to Hasty Torres, according to Biography. A Los Angeles native, the former Hasty Khoei met her future husband when she moved to New York to work for him as a pastry chef, according to IMDb. Hasty Torres' LinkedIn page identifies her as the owner of the Beverly Hills-based luxury chocolate house, Madame Chocolat, although it would appear from other sources that Madame Chocolat is no longer in business. 

In either case, Hasty and Jacques Torres are the parents of two young children — a son named Pierre, who was born in 2016, and a daughter named Jacqueline, who was born in 2019 (via the official Jacques Torres website). Besides sharing both a professional and personal passion for chocolate, Jacques and Hasty would appear to share a mutual keen interest in interior design, which they discussed in a 2014 interview with LA Times regarding the then-recent interior renovation of their Beverly Hills home. 

Currently, Jacques and his family make their home in New York City, which is where Torres' "state-of-the-art 40,000-square-foot chocolate manufacturing plant" is located — in Brooklyn to be exact. New York City is also home to seven Jacques Torres retail locations.  

Jacques Torres has a heart for ice cream, too

When you think of Jacque Torres, the first thing that's likely come to mind is chocolate. What only the most enthusiastic Mr. Chocolate fans may know is that Jacques Torres also has a "thing" for ice cream. And when we say "thing," it's that Jacques Torres has always had a soft spot in his heart for the creamy frozen treat, according to the James Beard Foundation newsletter. In fact, as he confessed to the James Beard Foundation, "I actually have more [childhood] memories of eating ice cream than chocolate." 

After selling ice cream sandwiches in his retail stores for years, Torres opened another spot specializing in just ice cream in 2009. As well, in 2015, he opened a stand in Grand Central Terminal known as "Jacques Torres Ice Cream," which may or may not be closed after the pandemic, according to online sources. And, as you might expect from a pioneer of the naturally sourced "bean-to-bar" movement in chocolate-making (via Jacques Torres website), the ice cream that's historically been sold at Jacques Torres Ice Cream is not just homemade — but it goes the extra mile of making each and every flavor from scratch (unlike most commercial ice cream "spinners"). It seems no matter what sweet treat he touches, Torres always does so with care and perfection.