About Our Chefs
French pastry chef Pascal Mezzacqui was born in the city of Cannes in the French Riviera and here is his story:
Since a young age, I have always been interested in baking pastries (probably influenced by my mother Henriette who was an incredible cook). My father Rene owned a retail shop selling only top quality fruits and vegetables, and from him I learned to recognize good quality fruits and vegetables. With such great role models, at the age of 16 I decided to become an apprentice in the art of baking.
In those days, as an apprentice you had to work 4 days in a pastry shop where a chef/owner would teach you their skills, and then spend 2 days at school with teachers. I had the pleasure and honor to be taught by Jacques Torres, one of the finest pastry chefs in the world.
Of course as any teenager who works for someone the first time, I was eager to jump right into baking, but instead I was cleaning dishes all day! Frustrated, I remember asking my parents “Why does the chef ask me to clean dishes all day? Why aren’t I baking anything?”
My parents answer was “Before you can learn to become a great chef you must know how to do everything from A to Z. That includes washing dishes and cleaning the floor. Hygiene is very important and the chef is just doing his job. Be patient, and in time you will learn to bake.”
I listened to my parents, I was patient, and 2 years later I graduated and received my diploma.
The next 3 years I worked for a few bakeries, learning new recipes and techniques.
At the age of 21, I left for 1 year in the navy on the battleship Colbert. In those days it was still mandatory in France for all men to serve 1 year in the military. The Colbert was the flag ship of the Mediterranean flotilla, and as Pastry Chef for the Admiral I got to travel quite a bit, representing my country by making cakes and mini pastries for diplomats and high ranking officers.
After leaving the navy, I worked in a few different cities and bakeries in the French Riviera to perfect my knowledge, but at the age of 27 destiny called me.
At that time my mother owned a sandwich shop in Cannes and her baker at the time approached her saying “I have a baker friend in Atlanta and he is looking for a Pastry Chef to do the grand opening of his pastry shop. Do you know anyone who would be interested?
I don’t think my mother would have told me about it if she’d know I would be interested, but 6 months later I was in Atlanta (January 24th 1994) without knowing any English but excited to be in America all the same.
With a new job came many challenges and for me it was not only learning new responsibilities, but also a new language in order to be able to communicate with my fellow workers. While things were improving, destiny came around yet again when my boss (knowing I was new to the city and didn’t know anyone) introduced me to a fellow Frenchman by the name of Patrick Jacquot.
A brief introduction that day would not expose destiny’s hand just yet. Shortly afterwards I left and was hired by a catering company to be a pastry chef in the morning and a waiter in the evening. This was perfect for practicing my English and (of course) making extra money!
A few months later destiny played her card when Patrick Jacquot left me a message to talk to me about a business opportunity. What was it? He said “I’m a baker, you’re a pastry chef – why don’t we open our own wholesale bakery?”
At the time I thought the idea was crazy, but we came to an agreement and pushed forward with a plan. It wasn’t easy. It took nearly a year to find a bank that would loan us the money, and then find a building for the bakery, but on July 4th, 1996 Croissant Bakery opened for business.