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Like most chefs, 25-year-old Rick Billings’s entrée into the kitchen began with a job washing dishes as a teenager. Rick graduated from New England Culinary Institute in the Advanced Placement Program in Montpelier, Vermont. Ironically, his favorite course was Meat Fabrication, and his least favorite was Pastry. "I didn't connect with the display case desserts with all their diagrams of assembly and the pounds of buttercream. They all just sat there in the case looking sad, and I didn't see much love in them.”

Rick choose to intern at L' Espalier in Boston, where he was exposed to a completely new take on cooking. Then moving back to his home state of Utah, he worked under Jonathan Perno at the Metropolitan. But the east coast beckoned again. Returning to Boston, Rick found Kristen Murray, the talented pastry chef at No. 9 Park, who helped him see the way a well-organized pastry kitchen was run. Under Kristen, Billings was exposed to a working environment where everything was fair game in pastry (including such unusual ingredients as sweet peas, tobacco, mead, and parmesan). After spending a day with the then-pastry chef of Clio, Alex Stupak, Rick was opened to an entirely new way of approaching pastry.

"Alex doesn't think like anybody else I know. His take on what dessert is and what it could be is a huge part of how I view pastry’s role in dining.” Rick is now the Pastry chef at Clio restaurant, where Chef Ken Oringer’s limitless creativity and inspiring techniques push him to create desserts that balance the cuisine of Clio.

Having spent the majority of the last ten years on the savory side of the kitchen, Rick approaches pastry the same way he did savory cooking. Constantly seeking a balance of flavor and texture while applying new techniques, his desserts at Clio admittedly ride a little closer to the savory side. The same curiosity that drove the young dishwasher to "constantly want to learn and move to better restaurants and just absorb every possible bit of information and technique available" is the same that pushes him to this day.

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