Chefs rock.

Some women follow rock bands. Some chase movie stars.

I’m into chefs.

Like many of my friends I read about celebrity chefs in cooking magazines and watch them on the Food Network, and I even have the chef sign a copy of the menu for me to take home when I have a great meal out. And while I hear that some movie stars refuse to sign autographs, I’ve never had a chef say “no” to my request to autograph a menu.

So I was a bit star struck last week when I took a tour of the French Pastry School in Chicago and Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer shook my hand. Our director of R&D Chef Diana Moles has worked with Chef Pfeiffer on many occasions and I am extremely jealous.

My colleague Erin and I were lucky enough to take a tour of the school, along with fellow foodie Wayne Johnson of NBC’s Wayne’s Weekend, and we got to meet two Master Pastry Chefs: school co-founders Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer and Chef Sebastien Canonne. The rock stars of Chicago’s culinary world, these chefs started the school in the 1990’s and it has become one of the premier venues for the pastry arts in the country.

The school reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as does our bakery: large bins filled with different shades of chocolate, clouds of whipped cream, tubs of sugar and flour. There were several classes going on while we were there; we came in near the end of one called Everything Chocolate, just in time to witness the gloriousness that is the chocolate buffet. Handmade chocolates, chocolate muffins, platters full of chocolate truffles in every flavor imaginable – calvados, cinnamon, pink grapefruit – crowned with a chocolate sculpture and a chocolate peony. Chef Canonne took pity on my poor ravenous tummy and gave me a handmade chocolate marshmallow to try.

I am in love.

And speaking of chocolate – Eli’s Chefs Diana Moles and Laurel Boger have finished up on five new products that will debut at this year’s National Restaurant Association trade show and my favorite so far is the cheesecake made with bananas and chocolate! The batter is made with ripe bananas so at first bite you get the sweet true taste and texture of real bananas, no fake yellow banana flavoring. On top is a thick layer of house-made bittersweet chocolate ganache, made with Schokinag chocolate, and a dusting of cocoa powder. Diana bakes it with a layer of Bananas Foster sauce inside, so on each forkful you get fruity banana, bittersweet chocolate and gooey brown sugar sauce. They’ve also designed four other flavors using black cherries, honey, blackberries, and passionfruit, and one is more delicious than the next (don’t be too jealous – these new cheesecakes will be available in a few months via Eli’s mail order).

Talk about rock stars…

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