Back to Main

Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel)

  • 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90212, U.S.A.
BEV_773_300x300

Chris Ford

Executive Pastry Chef
“Flavour often gets lost in beautiful desserts. For me, it’s always flavour first and appearance second.”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • First hired 2011, now since 2015
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

Employment History

  • Bryan Voltaggio Restaurants, Frederick, Maryland; Bouchon Beverly Hills; Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore; Trummer’s on Main, Clifton Hotel, Charlottesville, Virginia; ChikaLicious, New York; Norman’s, Ritz-Carlton Orlando

Birthplace

  • Orlando, Florida, USA

Education

  • Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu, Orlando, Florida

Languages

  • English

A kitchen in Beverly Hills might seem the last place to start a revolution, but that’s not stopping Chris Ford. “I want to change the way pastry is thought of in Los Angeles,” says Ford, who, as Executive Pastry Chef of Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel), has the experience, talent and tools to do it. There aren’t many stand-alone pastry shops in LA, “and not much on par with Paris and New York,” he continues. “But the clientele is on par with those cities. By raising the bar and utilising what we have at the hotel, I think it will be easy to get exposure and recognition to start a pastry revolution.”

If all that weren’t enough, Ford is quick to add: “I want our pastry kitchen to be considered the best in the company, too.”

The main ingredient for both of the above is the team that Ford oversees. Most of the talent in the pastry kitchen is “really seasoned,” he says, with some having been on staff for a decade or more. The senior people bring history – “what worked and what didn’t” – while the newer ones bring a fresh point of view. Put them together and Ford has just what he needs: “Every success I’ve ever had has been thanks to my team.”

Ford characterises the hotel’s pastry kitchen as “beautiful and huge,” with a dough sheeter, a chocolate room, an ice cream room and more to keep up with the high volume required for THE Blvd as well as the Pool Bar & Café, in-room dining, banqueting and special amenities. As much as he likes the kitchen, he plans to modernise it nonetheless, the better to accomplish his vision of dazzling diners with “dainty, artful and intricate pastry. I think little pastries will really go over with the clientele here in Beverly Hills.”

Beverly Wilshire is Ford’s second assignment for Four Seasons. He got his start in 2011 at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, opening Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina. His specialty, he says, was “elegant nostalgia” through creations such as an airy banana cream puff with chocolate, coconut tapioca and hazelnut sherbet that, taken together with a fork, reminded diners of banana cream pie. “Guests in Baltimore were often taken aback because what they saw on the plate wasn’t what they expected. My goal was to create memories in their heads.”

After two years in Baltimore, Ford departed for Bouchon Beverly Hills, located just steps from Beverly Wilshire. He was drawn by the opportunity to work with Thomas Keller – long a professional and personal goal. After a year another opportunity called Ford back east to become corporate pastry chef for Bryan Voltaggio, a runner-up on Top Chef whose operation now counts nine restaurants in and around the Nation’s Capital. Alas, though, it was not the right fit. “I helped open three restaurants and restructure the corporate program. It was a great experience, but I missed working with one team.”

Ford was originally inspired to the kitchen by his grandmother and was baking bread and testing recipes as a six-year-old growing up in Orlando. Upon reaching post-secondary-school, he enrolled in the local Le Cordon Bleu and fell hard for dessert halfway through. “Pastry really opened my mind. There is so much creativity and really no boundaries.”

Though he is generally averse to “going back and redoing things,” Ford is pleased as pie to be back with Four Seasons again – and at a “rock star” address like Beverly Wilshire, no less. He has learned many things over the course of his still young career, perhaps none more important than how food “speaks” to him, and how to answer back: “Never give a peach more than it needs,” he says, adding, “Flavour often gets lost in beautiful desserts. For me, it’s always flavour first and appearance second.”

Listen up, Los Angeles.