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Pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind whips up sweet endings that complement Neal Fraser’s celebrated New American cuisine with an inventive, whimsical style. Born in Mexico City to parents of Russian heritage, Belkind spent her earliest years in Mexico before moving to Miami as a young girl. She studied dance at a performing arts high school and then Russian language and literature in New York at Bard College.

The proximity of Bard College to the renowned Culinary Institute of America was a big influence on Belkind. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Russian Studies from the University of Michigan, Belkind relocated to Chicago, where she accepted a position as an indemnification worker acting as a liaison between Russian Jewish Holocaust survivors and the German government, which was ordered to disburse reparations.

The idea of Southern California’s persistent sunshine eventually drew Belkind to Los Angeles in 1998, where she decided to pursue her dream of wearing chef’s whites. While at the California School of Culinary Arts, she worked her way through school by bartending at Houston’s Restaurant. A natural talent in the kitchen, Belkind was soon invited to complete her externship under Mark Peel at Campanile.

Belkind sharpened her skills working the pantry during weekend brunches and Wednesday-night tastings at Campanile. After graduating, Belkind stayed on as a cook in the savory station. She worked side by side with Roxanna Julepat (now pastry chef of Lucques and AOC) and realized that she was completely inspired by the beautiful, clean presentation of Roxanna’s sweet creations. When a position opened in the pastry kitchen, Belkind jumped at the chance to train in Nancy Silverton’s kitchen under Roxanna, Kim Boyce (former pastry chef of Campanile) and Dahlia Nervaez (current pastry chef of Campanile).

In anticipation of Grace’s 2003 opening, Neal Fraser met with Belkind and instantly knew he had found an ideal complement to his unique style. Abandoning fussy presentations, Belkind’s pastry creations and presentations are simple and elegant. With her wildly popular Jelly Doughnuts and elegant “Morning After Pastries,” Belkind has been praised as one of the hottest young pastry chefs in Los Angeles by publications ranging from the Los Angeles Times to Gourmet.

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