Francisco Migoya: entering the world of Desserts

Francisco Migoya who started as an artist in Mexico City, is today considered one of the best Pastry Chefs in US and he’s also among the top 10 chocolatiers. Awarded with the James Beard and author of many books such as “The Elements of Dessert”. He was also a teacher at Culinary Institute of America. Currently the head chef in the “lab” of Modernist Cuisine. (You can get a peak at their amazing Instagram here ) He’s changing the future of Pastry and Bread 🙂

King’s Bread by Modernist Cuisine

This post focuses on Migoya’s approach to dessert rather than anything. Many of the fundamental notions that can be found in his book Elements of Dessert

When it comes to “DESSERT”

According to Migoya there are many areas, each of them with technical differences and challenges

For most of us pre-desserts are a foreign concept, although they are a must in some high-end restaurants where a pre-dessert is a step between savory and sweet dishes . Cheeses, honey, jellies and semi-sweet combinations

Plated desserts are the most common, coming after our main dish. Regularly very elegant and simple as panna cotta, crème brûlée, etc.

Petit fours, in the other hand, comprises many kinds of fancy small bites, also known as mignardises in French. Very sophisticated they call for more advanced techniques, they are usually showstoppers in their own size

F Migoya’s creations on chocolate

Categories according to Migoya:


Plated Desserts

Dessert buffets

Passed around desserts


Petit fours

The word dessert, right off, comes from The French word “desservir” which means somehow de-serve. Serve something where everything else has been already cleared out. Usually dessert comes in last, at the end, when the table is clean and all food gone. 

Migoya’s key to creation:

Start with a mental image

This might come from Migoya’s art background, he even attended Art School. He recommends picturing something and then trying to recreate, emulate that, looking for the ingredients and techniques that could help bringing to life whatever you have in mind. *This is the method most artists recur to, starting with a mental image. 

Gives an (x) number of chances to a dessert idea

Is up to you when to give up, he says. For him, if after 4 times approaching the idea he can’t make it, he’ll drop it. As he says: you might want to give up at your 10th try! 

Try to balance flavor, texture and aesthetics

These 3 elements are key in the dessert equation, and evidently is challenging to get it all right. Migoya would say “wholesomeness” is the goal when creating a dessert. This could mean safety, health standards or beauty. For him, the greatest tip for creativity is to expose yourself to a lot of tasting, trying all you can  from savory to sweet, as an apprentice and even as a professional. 

A whole heart, Migoya’s creation
Pastry Chef Migoya

*images and info are taken from Migoya’s book Elements of Dessert”  and Modernist Cuisine’ website

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