Florian Bellanger

Get to know Florian Bellanger, a judge on Food Network's Cupcake Wars.

Florian Bellanger is the chef and co-owner of Mad-Mac, "The Authentic French Macarons and Madeleines," serving retail, food service and the hospitality industries. Mad-Mac was founded in 2006 and has been quickly recognized as a leader in quality and innovation on the macaron market. Mad-Mac will soon open a retail store dedicated to macarons, cakes, chocolates and ice cream in Bal Harbour shops, Miami, Fla.

Previously, Chef Bellanger was the Fauchon's executive pastry chef in the U.S.; he headed a team of 24 pastry chefs in creating the finest pastries, special occasion cakes, cookies, unique ice creams and sorbets for the legendary French epicurean emporium's Tea Salon and flagship store in New York City. He has come full circle after serving Fauchon in Paris under the Command of Famous Executive Pastry Chef Pierre Herme from 1991 to 1994, as well as Executive Pastry Chef for Fauchon Flagship in Qatar from 1994 to 1996.

At Fauchon NYC, Florian's innovations were evident in such tradition-shattering creations as éclairs flavored with orange zest, passion fruit or coconut; raspberry marshmallow cake; Toulouse violet ice cream and raspberry-chili pepper sorbet; and lavish 3-D holiday cakes and wedding cakes for which he continuously creates new molds and recipes.

A veteran of pastry kitchens from around the world, Florian was Eric Ripert's pastry chef of Le Bernardin from 1996 to 2001, where his desserts, described as "light and dreamy" by Ruth Reichl of The New York Times, helped bring the restaurant to its four-star status. In addition, he was the pastry chef in the French Military Officer's Club in French Guyana.

Growing up in Paris, Florian knew from an early age that his career would take a culinary path. Not only did he indulge in decadent cakes and pastries as a child, but he often spent his free afternoons in the kitchen, baking them for his family. While a childhood allergy to chocolate did ironically prevent him from relishing such treats for nearly six years, he fortuitously outgrew it and dedicated himself to the art of pastries even more passionately. At the age of 15, Florian applied to Paris's prestigious pastry school, L'Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la Table. Although his application was rejected because he was a year too young to enroll, in 1983 the future chef was accepted and graduated with an emphasis in pastry and a specialty in chocolate and ice cream.

Boldly inventive Florian was named one of the 10 Best Pastry Chefs in America in 2004 and 2003 by Pastry Art & Design magazine. In 2002 and 2001, the James Beard Foundation recognized Florian's accomplishments with a nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Florian has also served as the President of the Jury for the U.S. Pastry Competition since 2007. He and his collection of innovative cakes and pastries have been featured on several networks and TV shows, including the Food Network, Epicurious TV, CNN, NBC and Martha Stewart Living. He's also been featured in countless publications, including House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Weddings, Forbes, Brides, Modern Bride, People magazine, The New York Times, InStyle magazine, Pastry Art & Design, Food Arts, Chocolatier Magazine, The Nibble, Delta Sky and New York Magazine, and on PastryScoop.com.

Chef Bellanger is a member of City Harvest's Food Council and a guest chef faculty member at the French Culinary Institute. He also donates his time to charities such as the Anthony Spinazzola Foundation, Wolfgang Puck Charity and the Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation.