Marcel Desaulniers, 1945–1978

He was known as the “Guru of Ganache,” a moniker he adopted when chocolate became his calling. Armed with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, Marcel Desaulniers cooked his way through the 1960s in Manhattan’s swishiest restaurants and fell madly in love with sweets. He landed in Williamsburg in 1970, opening the legendary Trellis a decade later, where it defined contemporary cuisine in the colonial capital, especially once he invented his larger-than-life “Death by Chocolate” dessert, so popular it even received its own fan mail. Desaulniers helped fuel a new enthusiasm for food and dining, writing cookbooks (eight on chocolate), winning culinary awards, and hosting cooking shows. The Trellis became a national landmark, ushering in a culinary culture that championed innovative American cuisine, local suppliers, and the art of food presentation. Desaulniers died in May at the age of 78. He is missed.

Chef Marcel Desaulniers. Photo by Edwin Remsberg

This article originally appeared in the August 2024 issue. 

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