Francisco Migoya, head chef at Modernist Cuisine and coauthor of Modernist Bread and the forthcoming Modernist Pizza, grew up in Mexico City, immersed in the cultures of his parents: American, Italian, and Spanish. The flavors of his family’s cooking and of his neighborhood were integral to his life, encouraging an early love of cuisine. Chef Migoya’s first calling, however, was art. Before turning his attention to food, Migoya, a self-taught artist, set his sights on art school to study drawing, primarily in pencil, charcoal, and ink. Encouraged by a friend, he acquired a staging position in a Mexico City hotel at age 16. Migoya quickly realized that the kitchen was where he belonged.
This experience led Migoya to pursue a culinary degree. While attending the Centro de Estudios Superiores de San Angel University in Mexico City, he received a full scholarship to study gastronomy at the Lycée d’Hotellerie et de Tourisme in Strasbourg, France. After moving to New York in 1998 and working in savory kitchens, Migoya eventually answered a newspaper ad for a pastry cook position at The River Café in Brooklyn, where he immediately connected with the world of sweets. He then went on to work as the pastry chef at Veritas in New York City, the executive pastry chef at both The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery, and as a professor at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
His work earned him recognition as one of the top pastry chefs in the country by Dessert Professional (2011), and Tasting Table (2013). As owner of Hudson Chocolates, he was recognized as one of the “Top Ten Chocolatiers in America” by Dessert Professional (2013) and received additional kudos from the Gremi de Pastisseria de Barcelona, who awarded him the Medal of Master Artisan Pastry Chef (2013). Migoya has authored three pastry books: Frozen Desserts (2008), The Modern Café (2009), and The Elements of Dessert (2012), which won the 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Professional Kitchens category.
In 2014, Migoya joined Modernist Cuisine to lead the culinary team and direct research with founder and Modernist Bread coauthor Nathan Myhrvold. Together, he and the MC team spent over four years researching the science, history, and techniques of bread making.
Migoya’s background in savory foods, bread, chocolate, pastry, and viennoiserie helped him approach Modernist Bread with a unique set of skills. Over the course of 1,600 experiments, Migoya and Myhrvold developed dozens of innovative techniques that push the boundaries of bread making, including ways of making high-hydration doughs easier to handle, new methods of making bagels, and pressure-canning bread in jars. Migoya’s contributions to the art of bread also include more than 1,200 recipes—his personal favorites include the Chocolate-Cherry Sourdough, Walnut Country Bread, and the Master Sourdough recipe. His recipes pair sublime flavors with Modernist techniques to create exquisite, avant-garde breads that unmistakably reflect his early interest in art.
As head chef, Migoya has led the Modernist Cuisine culinary team through meals for renowned chefs, bakers, and food personalities, including Jacques Pépin, Nancy Silverton, Massimo Bottura, Dominique Crenn, Magnus Nilsson, Anthony Bourdain, Questlove, Chad Robertson, and Chris Bianco—as well as a 50-course dinner honoring Ferran Adrià.
Migoya has applied his creativity in other ways at Modernist Cuisine, whether it’s re-creating architect Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece Casa Batlló in gingerbread, drawing sketches for Modernist Bread, or creating and styling elaborate culinary backdrops for photo shoots. Migoya, Myhrvold, and the Modernist Cuisine team are currently conducting research and writing their next book Modernist Pizza. In 2019, Migoya was inducted into Heritage Radio Network’s Hall of Fame as an individual whose accomplishments have had a special impact on the food community.