The Truth About Grace Lapsys From Holiday Baking Championship Season 8

"When it comes to chocolate," Grace Lapsys told the Food Network for her "Holiday Baking Championship" Season 8 contestant introduction, "if you can dream it, I can make it." Reaching the point where she could make such a boast about chocolate has been a long process, but a relatively recent one.

In a 2014 profile of her chocolate business Joliesse, the Albuquerque Journal noted that for many years Lapsys had worked in the art department for TV movies. Her IMDb page also shows that she had a couple of years supervision as a production manager and has since acted in a few shorts. According to Talkin' Broadway's review of her performance in "The Waiting Room," Lapsys was a "real find ... We need to see her on stage much more often."

Obviously, though, something about this work was not fulfilling enough for her, so she reconnected to the chocolate she had in her childhood home in the Philippines and studied chocolatiering in Canada and later the Valrhona school in France. With all that knowledge acquired, Lapsys opened Joliesse, Albuquerque's first high-end chocolate shop, where she made truffles, chocolate bars, and hot chocolates, as well as taught chocolate making workshops. However, her LinkedIn account states that Joliesse ended in 2019. Since then, she has served the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel as a pastry chef and just took on the mantle of executive pastry chef for Houston's Chocolate Bar.

Fusing Asian and European influences

As Grace Lapsys grew up in the Philippines, but studied chocolate-making in France, you would expect her approach to the dessert to somehow fuse the two. And you would be right. She said as much in a later interview with the Albuquerque Journal, "I'm originally from the Philippines, so my chocolates are an infusion of my European training and strong knowledge of Asian flavors."

What that means exactly is harder to discern in the interview. However, it is clear in a recipe she shared with Edible New Mexico. Her Lemon Pistachio Torte Sans Rival (pictured on her Instagram) is her twist on the Filipino take on French baking. In the '20s and '30s, Filipino bakers returned from their studies in France and created the sans rival by making the dacquoise with cashews, instead of almonds. As the title for her dessert suggests, Lapsys' take features pistachios instead, but still pays homage to the treat that would celebrate one's milestones.

Also, just looking at her creations, it's clear that Lapsys should give the rest of the competitors in the eighth season of "Holiday Baking Championship" a run for their money.