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Chris Hanmer on the Upsides of Top Chef

Continuing Eater Lounge coverage from the Cayman Cookout in Grand Cayman. Right now: Top Chef: Just Desserts season two winner Chis Hanmer .


You're here as part of winning Top Chef: Just Dessert, right?
Yes, so there was the other prizes but then a showcase here. So I'm doing the dessert showcase after the dinner tonight.

Did you do any big show pieces?
No, that's kind of hard to travel with. 90 degrees and high humidity are also not too good for decorative work.

But you're in Vegas normally, show piece work there, right?
Yeah, you just have to hit the air conditioning. But it's really the humidity that's the problem. I have sugar show pieces that last 6, 8 months in Vegas. Here it's ten minutes and it melts.

Tell me about your School of Pastry Design.
Yeah, the two year anniversary coming up. So business was slow at first but now it's blowing up. It's amazing. We focus on one on one classes. So 60% of my business is one on one classes. Anyone could say, I always wanted to learn how to do showpieces and they fly to Vegas and we do that for a few days. My max group classes is six people and then we do that for a few days and its fun.

You came from a Ritz-Carlton, right?
Yes, I was at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas and through unfortunate times it actually closed two years ago. So I was consulting and I talked with my wife and then we decided to do this school. It went really fast, from nothing to business license in 90 days.

Are you still competing now?
After Top Chef Just Desserts, I'm trying to do that a little bit less. I'm finding fulfillment with my clients. If the right thing came up I might. I hear Richard Blais talk about being on Top Chef earlier today and I get goosebumps. Before my demo today they showed a clip from Desserts and the same thing. I mean, I know who won and everything, but still. So it's so intense but it's fun.

What are your future plans?
Hopefully fun stuff. Nothing defined yet but hopefully being here will spawn some cool new things.

How was the Top Chef experience? Do you get recognized on the street?
Sometimes i get recognized. Sometimes in fun ways, Halloween I went into a supply store and this lady was like "You're Chris! I want to start pastry school because of you." It's been really positive. People come up to me about my daughter's heart condition, and people come up to me and share their experiences and that's been really moving. The show has been really positive in that way. It's such an emotional experience so it's been moving to hear.

You have a new project related to heart conditions, right?
Yes, CH Sweethearts. We're developing it right now. We want it to be a resource, help parents find resources. There's a lot of scary stuff out there when kids are diagnosed. We want parents to find a positive forum for it. I recently found out Shaun White, the Olympic snowboarder, had the same condition. He had two surgeries before he was one year old. And he's a world class athlete! It happens to so many people and it's open heart surgery and you get a diagnosis and then it's like wait what? But the technology is there and the surgeons are so good. The compassion people have is other worldly.

· All Chris Hanmer Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Cayman 2012 Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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