Photography by Brent Bingham

Local pastry chefs produce the sweet creations that feed their cravings.

From airy macarons in ethereal colors to dark, sexy chocolate with a comehither wink, sugar has its own revered place at the table. “When you go out to dinner, you remember what you ate first, and you remember what you ate last,” says Brian Ackerman, chef-owner of Splendido at the Chateau. “Having a good pastry chef is really important.”

Whether they’re building architectural structures of butter and sugar or churning sweet cream into silky gelato, pastry chefs are playful no matter how seriously they take their sweets. And though baking demands scientific precision and attention to detail, it’s an art form that encourages flights of fancy. Here, some of our best local pastry chefs reveal the cakes and tarts that inhabit their souls — the stuff of dreams.

Carrie Heller – Terra Bistro


Instagram: terrabistrovail

“I love desserts. I could eat ice cream breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Tres leches shortcake layered with sweetened whipped cream and garnished with a caramel rum sauce

Maxine Caprioni – Hovey & Harrison

Instagram: hoveyandharrison

“I learned pretty early on that if you show up anywhere with baked goods — school, a party, whatever — it changes things. Nobody is unhappy with you; it’s easier to make friends. Sweets are a great way to bond.”

Chocolate cake layered with vanilla cream filling, finished with pomegranates and macarons

Natalie Palko – Grouse Mountain Grill

Instagram: grousemtngrill

“I’ve always loved art, which is why I became a pastry chef. I really enjoy creating something beautiful with ingredients you get to eat.”

Dark chocolate tart with candied cherries, toasted pistachios and whipped cream

Jessica Havlik – The Rose

Instagram: TheRose_Colorado

“From floral arrangements to pastries, I love to create the unique. Pastries have different dimensions, including, flavor combinations and design. I love working on both,creating not only something that looks amazing but tastes wonderful too.”

Spanish teacake made with olive oil, almond flour and Earl Gray tea, with Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with fresh figs and berries.

Sebastien Schmitt – Splendido at the Chateau

Instagram: splendidorestaurant

“I love making fine dining desserts for the customers of Splendido and showing them my passion, but I also love making traditional pastry for myself, friends and family. Anything that involves chocolate work is very enjoyable for me. I basically don’t like to be bored and I always try new things.”

Chocolate cake with a mix of milk and dark chocolate mousse, crunchy hazelnut caramel, shiny cacao glaze and gold leaf