Chef Laura Johnson Named 2015 ACF Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year

Author: Molly Moran

laura_johnson_1Chef Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson, CC, floor chef, University of Notre Dame Food Services, Notre Dame, Indiana, was named 2015 American Culinary Federation (ACF) Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year, March 7. Johnson received the title following a competition at the ACF Central Region Culinary Salon held at Pulaski Technical College, North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The ACF Pastry Chef of the Year award, established in 2004 and sponsored by Plugrá® European-Style Butter, recognizes a pastry chef who has displayed a passion for the craft, has an accomplished reputation in the pastry field and has given back through the education of others by sharing his or her skills and knowledge. Johnson will now prepare to compete against her regional counterparts during Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show, Orlando, Florida, July 30-Aug. 3, for the national title and $5,000.

“It is a privilege to represent the ACF Central Region and The University of Notre Dame at the national competition,” said Johnson. “Notre Dame has given me a wonderful bakery and pastry shop to practice my passion, and I look forward to a lifetime of participation and professional enrichment with ACF. I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration and respect for Amy Knoles, pastry chef at the Country Club of Detroit, Julieta Adauto, pastry chef/owner of Orange Peel Pastries, and Eric Voigt, pastry chef at Big Rock Chophouse, The Reserve, for the skills they displayed in the competition. In the short time I spent with them, it reinforces why I want to be an active member of ACF.”

tropical_breezeLaura's winning dessert, Tropical Breeze

At the regional competition, Johnson was required to use dark chocolate, coconut, a tropical fruit of choice and Plugrá® butter in the dessert. Her winning dessert was a pastry-wrapped chocolate cake served with coconut rum ice cream, macerated tropical fruit, caramelized pineapple and banana with a banana cream and passion fruit fluid gel.

Laura Johnson, an ACF-certified Culinarian (CC), graduated with honors from Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wisconsin, with an associate degree in Culinary Arts and Hotel Restaurant Management and a certificate in advanced baking. She is working on her bachelor’s in management from the University of Wisconsin—Stout, Menomonee, Wisconsin. Johnson is an avid culinary competitor and has received several silver and gold medals in ACF-sanctioned competitions. Her experience includes line cook at Sliders Bar and Grill, Menasha, Wisconsin, intern and then baker/pastry cook at Notre Dame Bakeshop, Notre Dame. At her current capacity as floor chef for Notre Dame Food Services, she oversees a staff of eight and the pastries for the catering service and Morris Inn at Notre Dame, a four-star hotel on the university’s campus. 

The 2015 ACF Central Region Culinary Salon was part of ACF’s Signature Series, which provides professional development for chefs and culinary students through educational programs, conferences and competitions. Learn more at, or at or on Twitter @ACFChefs.

-American Culinary Federation