Executive Pastry Chef at Auberge du Soleil, Paul Lemieux is the creative force behind the delectable desserts and confections produced in the kitchen at this renowned Napa Valley inn.
At the 80-seat dining room at Michelin-starred Auberge du Soleil, Lemieux offers an outstanding seasonal dessert and cheese menu. He created the Auberge Torte au Chocolat, the inn’s signature dessert. Lemieux handcrafts each torte with 11 layers of crisp hazelnut dacquoise, exquisitely smooth chocolate crémeux, fresh pureed organic hazelnuts and intensely rich dark chocolate ganache and ships them daily to fans nationwide. His sweet touch is evident throughout the resort, from the house-made confitures served at breakfast, to the chocolate-hazelnut truffles, pistachio caramels and amandes au chocolat he pairs with vintage Madeiras after dinner, and the pâte de fruits given to all dinner guests as a thoughtful parting gift.
Lemieux’s passion and creativity in the art of pastry making are the result of nearly 20 years of experience honed at renowned restaurants throughout the United States. A native of Wisconsin, he spent time developing his skills at top restaurants on both coasts. He began his career after graduating Magna cum Laude from Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I., in 1992. After early stints as a chef and pastry chef on the East Coast, he made the move to San Francisco, where he worked with renowned chef Traci Des Jardins at Rubicon. Recognizing his talent and passion for confections and chocolates, Des Jardins mentored Lemieux and, in 1996, appointed him pastry chef. A year later, she asked him to join her as pastry chef at her new namesake restaurant, Jardinière. An instant success, Lemieux continued to demonstrate his creativity in the world of desserts, adapting his own style of simple and pure flavors and focusing on fresh and seasonal ingredients in each dish.
Lemieux quickly was recognized as a true culinary star, earning critical acclaim by Gourmet magazine, which referred to him as “San Francisco’s up-and-coming pastry star.” His passion for chocolate was well known, and in 2002, he founded, with wife Michele, Paul Lemieux Chocolates, a Portland, Ore., small-production company creating artisan truffles with organic ingredients purveyed from local farmers. He was lured back into the restaurant world in 2002, when he was recruited to the position of pastry chef at Lucere Restaurant at Portland’s Riverplace Hotel. In 2003, his culinary journey led Lemieux to the Napa Valley, where he has flourished, not only as the creative mastermind behind Auberge du Soleil’s unforgettable desserts, but also in his role as educator at the Culinary Institute of America, where, as Adjunct Baking and Pastry Instructor, he trains and mentors the next generation of pastry chefs.