Roland Mesnier (born July 8 1944) is a French-American pastry chef and culinary writer. His creations during his twenty five years as Executive Pastry Chef (1979–2004) at the White House earned him the reputation of a creative genius.
Mesnier was born into a family of nine children in the village of Bonnay, France. He first became interested in becoming a chef when he visited his brother's pastry shop in a nearby city and was delighted by the smell of fresh fruit in the kitchen. His mother secured an apprenticeship for him when he was fourteen at a pastry shop in Besançon. He would work from 6am to 8pm six days a week and in exchange received 300 francs a month, plus room and board, in addition to cooking lessons.
Like most young apprentices, Mesnier was only given menial tasks, such as grocery shopping at first to see if he were truly interested in learning the profession. Mesnier stayed on and eventually was taught how to make cakes, croissants, and brioche. He also was first exposed to puff pastry and chocolate molding which laid the groundwork for his future specialties. At 17 he passed his apprenticeship exam and began to look for work that would both enhance his skills and his reputation.
Eventually he found his way to Paris, working in a restaurant and pastry shop near the Opéra Garnier. He soon mastered all there was to learn in Paris and on the advice his employer he went to West Germany where techniques were more advanced. Mesnier lived in Hamburg and Hanover and learned how to make cakes, cookies, fondants, and marzipan modeling as well as mastering the German and English languages.
- Dessert University: More Than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, published August 10, 2004, ISBN 978-0-7432-2317-1
- Sucré d'Etat : Mémoires du pâtissier français de la Maison-Blanche, published February 14, 2006, ISBN 978-2-08-068789-0
- All the Presidents' Pastries: Twenty-Five Years in the White House, A Memoir, published February 13, 2007, ISBN 978-2-08-030559-6 [Note: this is an English translation of Sucré d'Etat]
- Roland Mesnier's Basic to Beautiful Cakes, published October 16, 2007, ISBN 0-7432-8789-4