Wendi JamesPastry Chef
...Wendi James, Pastry Chef of Le Francais, simply considers herself as "the girl who makes desserts."
inventiveness, expertise and dedication to creating "an experience" make her
much more than just that.
James' relationship with Le Francais
dates back to her
16th birthday.Taken to the restaurant as a birthday gift, James
was treated to a kitchen tour and met the famed Chef Banchet.From that moment, she
knew that she
wanted to pursue a career as a chef.
Degrees in Hospitality Management and Cuisine and Pastry from the University of Illinois
and Le Cordon Bleu, respectively, provided a solid foundation for James
to start building her
honed her skills in the kitchens of such 5 star restaurants as Daniel in New York City, The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va. and Charlie Trotter's in Chicago before coming back to the place where it all started - Le Francais
At Le Francais
constantly invents new pastries."I try to avoid 'signature' dishes because that means I'm stagnant," said James
, "If I'm not always changing and creating then I may as well work in an office."When developing a new dish, James
first decides what ingredients she
wants to work with, taking into consideration ingredients of the season; then, she
chooses complimenting flavors, often featuring "savory" accents - a style she
acquired in her
experience as a line cook - spices, herbs and nuts are a few of her
favorites; next, she
determines what form the components will take; and finally, James plays with the ingredients, tasting and tweaking until she
deems the treat perfect."Dessert is a very personal thing with a lot of nostalgia attached to it.I try to make sure everyone can find one thing on my menu that they love," said James
When not at the restaurant, James
enjoys cycling and reading.