The Truth About Juan Gutierrez From School Of Chocolate

As viewers watched "School of Chocolate" on Netflix, the fantasy chocolate sculptures of Amaury Guichon wowed without question. Juan Guitierrez, one of the eight pastry chefs competing for the title, sought to impress the world-renowned chocolatier. Through a series of difficult challenges, Gutierrez put all of his pastry and chocolate knowledge to the test. While a substantial prize awaited the winner, the chocolate education presented in each episode was worth its weight in gold.

In each episode of "School Of Chocolate," the eight chefs faced almost impossible challenges. From deceptive designs to gravity defying chocolate sculptures, each task added another tool to their tool box. While these showpieces and desserts might not be available in the local store, some techniques can be found in those perfectly plated desserts that fill your social media feed. 

Now, after rising to the occasion in challenge after challenge, Gutierrez can use all the knowledge he gathered to push his desserts to the next level, in his current pastry chef role. That said, the crown he earned from the Netflix food show is just one more addition to a long list of achievements. 

Juan Gutierrez has earned many accolades before School of Chocolate

Before appearing on "School of Chocolate," Juan Gutierrez had already accumulated many awards over the years. The Colombian pastry chef has studied at the French Pastry School in Chicago and garnered experience at a variety of Chicago restaurants, including his current position at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago (per LinkedIn). While those plated desserts shine at the popular Chicago hotel, TV Shows Ace reports that Gutierrez was a 2020 Rising Pastry Chef Jean Banchet nominee: Named for the Chicago chef who highlighted French cuisine in his Wheeling restaurant, the annual Jean Banchet Awards celebrate the best and brightest in the Chicago culinary world, so a nomination is a highly respected achievement, to say the least.

In addition to his restaurant related kudos, Austin Food Magazine reports that Gutierrez won Best Chocolate Showpiece and Best Dessert Table at World of Chocolate 2018. According to World Chocolate Masters, the competition is meant to "boundaries of chocolate creativity." Balancing the art, technology, and science of the field, the competition asks the pastry chefs to embrace "the future of indulgence" in a way that sparks a conversation to push the craft forward. 

Even though these many accolades might have set Gutierrez on the path of success, he still had to deliver impeccable creations on "School of Chocolate" to earn the ultimate chocolate prize.

Juan Gutierrez honed his craft at this Chicago restaurant

While many foodies appreciate the vibrant Chicago culinary scene, Juan Gutierrez soared to new heights in the supportive restaurant community, having at one point worked as a pastry chef at Longman & Eagle. That Logan Square restaurant captivates guests with a throwback to the old school Chicago Inn vibe while still offering impeccable dining that has previously garnered the restaurant Michelin recognition.

Speaking of his time as the restaurant's pastry chef on Facebook, Gutierrez said, "Longman & Eagle where I was able to show my art and style. Every season the menu was different in style and vision, I was able to play with colors, textures, and aromas and the most important part was that I was doing what I love." As seen in "School of Chocolate," Gutierrez was able to incorporate those characteristics into his showpieces. While being able to apply the extraordinary techniques created stunning visuals, it was his ability to combine all the components which earned him the biggest rewards in the Netflix chocolate competition.

How did COVID impact Juan Gutierrez's pastry career?

Like many chefs, Juan Gutierrez felt the impact of COVID on the restaurant industry. Speaking candidly in a Facebook post, "I was one of the millions of chefs that lost their jobs during the pandemic." 

While he was not alone in that loss, the reality is that the change shook him to the core. Even as he might have "felt hopeless," he decided to keep pushing forward and not "let those bricks [in the road] stop him." Even though Gutierrez thought that he had reached a high point by securing the pastry chef position at Virgin Hotel Chicago, the difficulties of the pandemic saw a change of course. Still, he believed that "The love that we all share for pastry is stronger than anything and that is what is going to keep us pushing and thriving."

Currently, Gutierrez is the pastry chef at the Four Season Chicago Hotel. At the Atom restaurant, his desserts have been described as being "cultured and whimsical" by FSR Magazine. The desserts he crafts captivate all the senses on the plate. While the sweet treats might "create conversation pieces," they continue his pursuit of pushing forward and grabbing the attention of dessert lovers with his talents.

What are some of Juan Gutierrez's well-known desserts?

With stints at some of Chicago's celebrated restaurants and hotels, Juan Gutierrez showcased desserts that impressed even the most ardent critics. Showcasing his creativity — in design, flavors, and textures — those desserts served him well as he competed in "School of Chocolate." As Gutierrez told FSR Magazine, "My menu is about telling a story and inspired by art. It's not only about experiencing a good dessert, but more of a captivating experience." According to the same article, some of his current dessert offerings include "Colombia Tierra Querida with coffee mousse, Arequipe cremeux, and obleas and Tropical Parisienne with tropical baba, coconut sorbet, and fermented pineapple."

Although his finale showpiece on "School of Chocolate" was a collaborative effort, Gutierrez has never lost sight of his own individualism and creativity. While Time Out heralded his chocolate crémeux and focus on vegan desserts at Virgin Hotel Chicago as being whimsical and tasty creations, it seems that his current offerings blend that adventurous side with his Colombian heritage. 

No matter what sweet treat is served on the plate, Juan Gutierrez pushes what is possible with the ingredients of flour, sugar, and butter. As the winner of "School of Chocolate," the future is bright for the celebrated pastry chef.