Rodrigo Romo

Rodrigo Romo

Tout Chocolat

After graduating from Culinary School in May of 2005, Chef Romo joined the prestigious Tout Chocolat team.
Chef Romo has always been passionate about pastry and chocolate since his family owns a restaurant and a bakery in Mexico City where he acts as a consulting pastry chef. Chef Romo has over 5 years of experience as a teacher in prestigious cooking schools such as Le Cordon Bleu in Mexico City and the University Claustro de Sor Juana.

Besides working as a chocolatier and teaching his craft in various schools as a guest teacher, Chef Romo enjoys the challenge of culinary competitions. In 2009, after winning the national selection for the Mondial des Arts Sucrées, he represented Mexico in the world finals in Paris, France where they were awarded 3rd place in the tasting category and 5th place overall. During preparation for the competition he worked closely with Christophe Rhedon. (MOF) During this time he developed a close relationship with the acclaimed chef and the result was the highest finish for a Latin American team in a Pastry World Championship.

He is in charge of the production of pastries, confisseries & chocolates and plays a big role in the developing of new products for Tout Chocolat.

Chef Romo has appeared in a number of publications and TV appearances during the past few years including “Cadena 3” and “cannel 22”.

Kayla Swartout

KaylaSwartoutKayla Swartout’s love of pastry didn’t begin in a kitchen or culinary school, but on the streets of Paris. While spending a year traveling abroad, Kayla and her sister took a train to Paris for a weekend trip. She had planned to see all the famous sites, but instead her sister spent most of their trip having to pull her away from the bakery windows. She was in awe of the pastries at Laduree and became mesmerized by the complexity of Pierre Herme’s macarons – each window a work of art comparable to what she’d hope to see at the Louvre and nothing like what she had ever seen back home.

A few months after coming back she enrolled in The French Culinary Institute of New York City and began one of the most exciting journeys of her life. Kayla spent some time honing her skills at DB Bistro in NYC. And she currently works as the executive pastry chef at Nashville’s famed Hermitage Hotel and plans to someday soon work in Europe and start her own delicious bakery.

Samantha Mendoza

Samantha Mendoza

A native Houstonian, Samantha Mendoza enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston the age of 18 with a focus on baking and pastry. While in school, after watching her Instructor Manuel Catemaxca compete in the Chef Olympics in Germany, she was inspired to start competing. A natural in the competition forum, Samantha brought home two silver and two bronze medals at ACF competitions in Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Conroe.

At the age of 19 she started her first pastry cook job at Bedford by Robert Gadsby, who apprenticed with renowned chefs Alain Chapel, Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse. Robert and his Sous Chef Matthew Nall mentored and led her encouraged her to continue developing her skills and natural talents for the pastry industry. A year later she started at The Hilton Downtown Houston where she gained knowledge and experience in high volume production. She traveled through Germany, Italy, France, Amsterdam, and Spain to gain an understanding and appreciation of the techniques employed by pastry chefs worldwide.

At the age of 25 she is currently the Executive Pastry Chef at Triniti. With the support of Chef Ryan Hildebrand she attended lectures and hands on classes at The French Pastry School on chocolate application in the pastry world under Chef Thierry Mulhaupt further enhancing her repertoire. Triniti has become a home away from home for Samantha. She plays an integral role in all aspects of the culinary program at Triniti. She has developed seasonal menus working closely with the savory side of the kitchen to produce cohesive, collaborative menus that reflect her talents and growth as a true professional artist. Her contributions to the Mercury dinner, a collaboration of food, wine, and music with Mercury the Orchestra Redefined have exemplified her dedication to craft and execution. Her recent invitations in 2013 to compete in both ICC Star Chef and Pastry Live competitions further demonstrate her growing national attention. She is currently nominated for one of the best pastry chef’s in Houston. Under the guidance of Chef Hildebrand, Samantha has laid the groundwork and formed the cornerstones of what is sure to be one of the strongest young pastry programs in the country and now looks to the future as the Executive Pastry Chef for Brande Restaurant Group helming the baking and pastry programs for both Triniti and FM 903 including her own pastry showcasing her creations.

Virginette Fitzpatrick


Pastry Chef de Partie

Cathedral Hall Restaurant

Chef Virginette Fitzpatrick is a native of Louisville, KY. Shortly after earning a bachelors degree, she attended the Jefferson Community College Culinary Arts Program, earning degrees in Culinary Arts, Food and Beverage Management, and Catering.

In 2006 Chef Fitzpatrick earned the opportunity to merge her love of French culture with her love of food. Thanks to a Woman Chef’s and Restaurateurs scholarship, she attended L’Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in France. While in France she studied classical French cooking techniques as well as French food culture and dining.

Following La Varenne, she completed a 3 month stage at Le Chocolaterie de Pont Aven. At the Chocolaterie, Virginette Studied under Chef Eric Jubin, former instructor at the G.J. Bellouet Conseil. It was during this stage, she discovered the exciting and challenging work of pastries and confections.

Upon her return to the states, Chef Fitzpatrick accepted a job at Louisville’s Luxury Historic Brown Hotel where she held the position of Pastry Chef. Seeking to advance her pastry career in a more robust culinary environment, she moved to Chicago, IL.

Fitzpatrick was a pastry chef assistant and events committee member for the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition from 2011-2012. She also volunteers in the Elawa Farm kitchen assisting head chefs Gale Gand and Michelle Doll in food preparations for the farm market.

Chef Virginette Fitzpatrick is currently Pastry Chef de Partie at Cathedral Hall restaurant at The University Club of Chicago.