Jennifer Jones: Pastry chef of the year

The first time Jennifer Jones set foot in <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLENT000328" title="Frontera Grill" href="/topic/lifestyle-leisure/dining-drinking/chicago-restaurants/frontera-grill-PLENT000328.topic">Frontera Grill</a>, she was a high schooler from Wheaton. These days she visits 445 N. Clark St. with some regularity; for the last three years, the Kendall College graduate and <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLENT000327" title="Charlie Trotter's" href="/topic/lifestyle-leisure/dining-drinking/chicago-restaurants/charlie-trotters-PLENT000327.topic">Charlie Trotter's</a> alum has been the pastry chef at Frontera's upscale sibling, <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLENT000314" title="Topolobampo" href="/topic/lifestyle-leisure/dining-drinking/chicago-restaurants/topolobampo-PLENT000314.topic">Topolobampo.</a> "I have a real respect for Mexican culture and ingredients," she says.<br>
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"The challenge is to take those elements and educate people -- for example, utilizing masa in a dessert to showcase just how incredible it is."<br>
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This technique takes remarkably creative turns, such as a dragon-fruit meringue stuffed with guanabana espuma; a steamed cake of bittersweet Mexican chocolate with chocolate-wine sorbet and red peanut mole; or a salute to Veracruz via a vanilla crema cake with plantain croquettes, banana-leaf ice cream and dark coffee crumble. 2011 was a great year for desserts in Chicago, but Jones' impressed us the most.<br>
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<i>-- Phil Vettel</i>

( Photo by Bill Hogan / December 17, 2014 )

The first time Jennifer Jones set foot in Frontera Grill, she was a high schooler from Wheaton. These days she visits 445 N. Clark St. with some regularity; for the last three years, the Kendall College graduate and Charlie Trotter's alum has been the pastry chef at Frontera's upscale sibling, Topolobampo. "I have a real respect for Mexican culture and ingredients," she says.

"The challenge is to take those elements and educate people -- for example, utilizing masa in a dessert to showcase just how incredible it is."

This technique takes remarkably creative turns, such as a dragon-fruit meringue stuffed with guanabana espuma; a steamed cake of bittersweet Mexican chocolate with chocolate-wine sorbet and red peanut mole; or a salute to Veracruz via a vanilla crema cake with plantain croquettes, banana-leaf ice cream and dark coffee crumble. 2011 was a great year for desserts in Chicago, but Jones' impressed us the most.

-- Phil Vettel

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