Park Hyatt Washington’s executive chef Sebastien Archambault is pleased to announce the appointment of Naomi Gallego as the new pastry chef for the 216-room luxury hotel and its award-winning restaurant Blue Duck Tavern. She brings to her new position thirteen years of experience working in acclaimed restaurants and four-star hotels in the U.S. and Germany.
Gallego was born in Michigan but grew up in Texas, attending St. Phillips College in San Antonio to earn her a degree in Culinary Arts Management. She intended to pursue a career as a savory chef, but switched to pastry as it better satisfied her need to be creative and “make people smile.”
In July 2000, Gallego moved to Germany to accept her first pastry position working as an assistant at Café Schubert in Saarbrucken, one of country’s larger pastry shops with online shipping services. Here she worked two years under chef Ralf Wellauer, producing pastries for all the departments. She next moved to Washington, D.C. and baked in some of the city’s leading kitchens including Vidalia from 2003 to 2006, and PS 7’s from 2006 to 2007. Gallego then returned to Texas in 2007 to accept an appointment as executive pastry chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. She stayed at the award-winning property for two years before moving to the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 2012, Gallego moved to Laurel, Maryland to work for eight months as corporate pastry chef for Amero Foods before being tapped in January 2013 as the opening pastry chef for Stephen Starr’s notable DC newcomer on 14th Street, NW, Le Diplomate. The restaurant earned three stars (out of four) from The Washington Post during her tenure.
Gallego has participated in several courses to perfect her pastry making skills and is a master chocolatier. She has attended sugar and airbrush courses at the International School of Confectionary Arts in Gaithersburg, Maryland; the French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois, as well as the Atelier des Artes du Sucre in Belfort, France. Gallego also earned her “Konditormeisterbrief”, or Master Pastry Diploma, after studying for a year at the Konditormeisterschule zur Koln in Cologne, Germany. She has also taught classes on truffle making and chocolate tasting at Cocova, and served as an adjunct instructor for baking and pastry at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.
Her talents have been nationally recognized as Gallego has been featured on the Food Network Challenge three times: the “Surprise Engagement” episode in May 2010; the “Mythical Creatures” episode in March 2010, and the “Chocolate Masterpieces” episode in June 2008. She also served as team captain and placed second for the best sugar piece in the National Pastry Team Championship in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011, and was awarded a bronze medal for a chocolate showpiece at the ACF Expo in Austin in 2008. Gallego was named “Pastry Chef of the Year” by DC Modern Luxury magazine in 2007, and was on the long list of nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef Award 2008.