Currently the Executive Pastry Chef for UCLA (Go Bruins!), Richard Ruskell started his career in New York City. A graduate of one of the first classes at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) he was appointed the Chef Patissier at the Phoenician, a 4-star 5-diamond resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he created desserts for the award winning Mary Elaine’s restaurant.
While in Arizona he opened his pastry shop, Pastry Maxine, catering to the finest hotels in the area and winning every “Best of….” award the local newspapers could give. Food & Wine magazine declared his brownie the best they had ever tasted.
Richard also taught at the New England Culinary Institute. Waking up at 4 am, he made his way through the crisp Vermont air to teach bread production. On a particular snowy morning, with about three feet of snow on the ground he received a phone call and was asked if he’d like to open a luxury hotel in Laguna Beach, California. And although he thinks the leaves turning color in the fall cannot be equaled the pull of warmer weather drew him to sunny Southern California.
It was during his time at The Montage Hotel in Southern California that Richard really started flexing his culinary muscles with chocolate and cake artistry. He created many pieces for such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and Jay Z, U2, Chakira, Meryl Streep, and many others. He was created the 50th Anniversary cake for Los Angeles Magazine. Being the ‘ultimate fan’ of the soap opera All My Children, Richard created a huge chocolate display and cake for their last taping. He brought it to the studio, addressed the cast, and loved every minute. Keeping Up With the Kardashians also commissioned him to create the engagement party cake for Kim Kardashian and her ill-fated 72-day marriage to….what’s his name, oh yeah, Chris Humphries.
Richard has won numerous awards for his pastry work. His team took first place in sugar art at the National Team Pastry Championship. He has been named, twice, to the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America List. He has also been listed as one of the Top 10 Cake Artists and one of the top chocolatiers in the country. He has appeared on many Food Network shows, including Food Network Challenge, Sugar Dome, Halloween Wars, and Last Cake Standing. He has won every one.
In his spare time, when he has it, Richard teaches cake decorating, pastry and chocolate. He and his husband are in the process of restoring a 1912 California Bungalow in an historic Los Angeles neighborhood, where they live with their pit bull terrier, Zoey.