Pastry Artist Earns National Recognition for Confectionery Creations

Chef Deb Pellegrino, a 1992 graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts, has earned national recognition for her creative confections after competing on and winning Food Network Challenge: Chocolate Myths in July 2011, where she prevailed against other top chefs with a chocolate model of the Kraken—a monstrous ship-eating octopus.

Chef Deb Pellegrino

Pellegrino, a pastry artist, can transform chocolate into just about anything—even fashion. Also in 2011, Pellegrino designed edible Broadway-inspired haute couture, derived from the character Scar from Disney’s The Lion King, for a fashion show at the 14th annual New York City Chocolate Show. The design was about 70 percent dark chocolate.

Pastry arts requires patience, attention to detail and stamina—skills Pellegrino learned during her time at the ACA.

“It was a strict environment,” Pellegrino said. “I respected the chef educators who made me want to excel in the program.”

Upon graduation from the ACA, Pellegrino began her career traveling the globe for three years.

“It was because of my culinary degree that I got a shot as a crew chef on a 204-foot private yacht,” she said. “That was a great career beginning for me.”

She visited places from the Tahitian islands and the Galapagos to the U.S. West Coast, Bermuda and the Caribbean to Scotland, Norway, Russia and more. She traded T-shirts for black pearls, caught her own fish to clean and serve for dinner, and bought shrimp fresh from a trawler that crossed paths with her vessel.

“I’ve done a lot of amazing things in my life and have many accomplishments I consider to be big, but my biggest achievement that makes me most proud, is the team I work with today,” Pellegrino said.

She credits her “empowerment to make choices” during her career as the Executive Pastry Chef at Harrah’s and Showboat Atlantic City, as a factor that helps her creativity to grow.

Her best advice to new chefs: “get experience with great people and don't worry about how much [income] you are making to get that experience—it’s invaluable.”