Toni Roberts, Executive Pastry Chef, State and Lake Chicago Tavern and theWit Hotel, Chicago, Illinois


At the end of Chef Toni Roberts’ e-mails is a quote from Julia Child: “I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”

As the executive pastry chef at State and Lake Chicago Tavern and theWit Hotel and one of Chicago’s most sought-after pastry chefs, Toni wields a kitchen torch and other pastry tools with skill and precision. Toni is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She received a Jean Banchet Award for Culinary Excellence for Rising Star Pastry Chef, won the Best Dessert Menu award by Pastryscoop.com, and had her dessert selected by TimeOut Chicago as one of the “100 Best We Ate This Year.” She also had the privilege to assist Chef Marcus Samuelsson at the White House during his guest chef appearance for the Obama Administration’s first State Dinner.

After school, Toni started her career in Boston at Grill 23 and Excelsior Cuisine and Cocktails. She moved to Chicago to work at Chicago’s C-House before joining theWit as executive pastry chef, where she oversees all pastry operations at State and Lake Chicago Tavern and ROOF, as well as catering and weddings at theWit.

In May, Toni partnered with The Perfect Purée to make pastries and gourmet popsicles for the 21st Annual Championship BBQ & Cook-Off benefitting the Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen and the Chicago Food Depository as part of the National Restaurant Association show. Recipes included White Peach and Blackberry Cobbler, Strawberry Yuzu Macarons and Raspberry Spelt Brownie Bits.

“Purées and popsicles are a perfect match,” she says.

“At theWit, we have an ice cream cart for our catering and special events full of house-made frozen novelties. We use The Perfect Purée Lemon and Orange Zests (my all-time favorite products) to create our Citrus Delight Pop,” she says.

Another popular recipe is her Cucumber Thyme Mojito Fro-Yo Pop with fresh cucumber and The Perfect Purée Thyme & Citrus blend.

“This gives a great kick of mint and fresh lime. We use full fat Greek yogurt to add a little creaminess to the pop while still keeping it light and refreshing,” she says.

Toni blends sea salt and the mild heat of Aleppo pepper with The Perfect Purée Tamarind Puree, lime and tequila to create her Salted Tamarind Margarita Pops — a sour, sweet, salty and spicy grown-up treat.

The most underrated fruit, in Toni’s opinion, is guava. It gets plenty of exposure in her Guava Coconut Cream Pops, The Perfect Purée Pink Guava and Coconut Puree, lemon and Amarula Cream liqueur.

“This is a lovely liqueur made from the African marula fruit. I find it to have a strawberries and cream flavor profile and adds an unexpected exotic flavor to the guava and coconut blend,” she says.