Light-hearted. Playful. Composed. These are words that The Dawson’s pastry chef Ashley Torto often ascribes to her desserts. Chef Torto’s love of baking began when, at a very young age, she would gather in her family’s kitchen to cook and socialize with relatives and friends. However, after graduating from Illinois State University in 2006, the Chicago native didn’t initially pursue the culinary world. A short-lived role in a “typical” office setting sparked a desire in chef Torto to seek more interaction and an active, engaging and challenging position. It was the pull of fond memories from her youth that encouraged Ashley to pursue a career in baking. Thriving in high energy, fast-paced environments, chef Torto finds her career to be a perfect combination of her enthusiasm, strong work ethic and passion for delicious pastries.
A graduate of the The French Pastry School (Chicago), chef Torto quickly progressed and honed her skills as a pastry intern at The University Club of Chicago and as a pastry cook at MK Restaurant. From there, chef Torto went on to become assistant pastry chef at Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, pastry sous chef at The Bristol, and then assistant to the pastry chef at The Boarding House. Chef Torto’s creations focus on familiarity and foods that are approachable, such as: coffee and donuts, and bread pudding. Similarly to The Dawson’s executive chef Shaun King, chef Torto reimagines and restructures these familiar flavors and concepts to achieve new, unexpected results. Ashley also places a high importance on collaborating with the beverage team at The Dawson to select libations that best complement her dishes.
Chef Torto’s goal at The Dawson is to elevate the pastry program to the next level. She aims to create dishes that, above all else, guests enjoy eating.