Four Seasons JH pastry chef rounds out Team USA in int’l competition

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A local pastry chef and a chocolatier are both on their way to Italy to compete for the US team in an international competition beginning next month.

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole executive pastry chef Rhonda Ashton will represent Team USA in the World Championship of Pastry Ice Cream and Chocolate taking place in Milan, Italy on October 21, 2019. Ashton will be joined by three other team members representing the US team, including Oscar Ortega, master chocolatier and owner of Jackson Hole’s Ortega Chocolates.

The Pastry, Ice Cream and Chocolate Federation organizes the annual event open to every country in the world, with the first 16 teams to enroll having access to the championships. Each team is composed of one coach (captain of the team) and three competitors who will have professional competence in the field of Pastry, Ice Cream and Chocolate.

Ashton and Ortega are one-half of Team USA. They are joined by Chef Praveen Kumar from Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City and Chef Ramon Ramos from Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando Florida. Together the team brings more than 50 years of combined pastry experience from all over the world.

The theme of the 2019 World Championship will be “National Art and Tradition” (referring to its home country). The program for the 2019 edition will be seven hours, comprised of the following categories: chocolate sculpture and praline; sugar sculpture and modern cake; pastillage sculpture and single-portion ice cream.

While Ashton, Ortega, and company are keeping their practice pieces a well-kept secret, there has been no shortage of diligence with weekly creations. To date they’ve created more than eight final pieces and expect to create at least five more before the big day.

Ashton brings with her a wealth of knowledge and more than 32 years of experience. Her career started with a four-year apprenticeship with Sheraton hotels becoming a journeyman pastry cook by the age of 21. Her career has taken her all over the globe and has landed her in Jackson Hole for the last four years, where she continues to excel and push her skills to new limits.

“It’s not about the win—although who doesn’t want to win? It’s about pushing yourself, learning, growing and being part of the whole experience,” Ashton said.

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