Meet pastry master Thomas Raquel, one of the Met Gala 2021 chefs

The Costume Institute introduces Met Gala 2021 chefs and one of them has Filipino roots

Chef Thomas Raquel for Saks Fifth Avenue Menswear (Photo by Anne Menke) and his fellow Met Gala 2021 chefs (Photo from @metcostumeinstitute)

There are a lot of firsts happening in this year's Met Gala. One, it will feature two exhibitions in celebration of its theme about American fashion and identity. Second, in light of the current pandemic climate, it will be a more intimate event. Lastly, the guests of the benefit will feast on a sustainable plant-based menu.

On Aug. 2, 2021, The Costume Institute announced its roster of up-and-coming New York-based chefs, each of them will contribute one recipe for either canape, entrée, or dessert "with a new interpretation of regional American cuisine." The chefs were selected by restaurateur-chef Marcus Samuelsson and Bon Appétit magazine.

“I am honored to participate in an initiative that highlights the incredible work of these 10 New York chefs at the Met gala,” said Samuelsson in a press release from the Met. “After a difficult two years for the restaurant industry, this will showcase the work and tell the stories of a dynamic group of chefs while presenting an exciting menu of delicious, plant-based dishes. The gala offers an incomparable opportunity for emerging talent to elevate their careers and share their perspectives and craft."

The diverse selection of chefs includes Fariyal Abdullahi, Nasim Alikhani, Emma Bengtsson, Lazarus Lynch, Junghyun Park, Erik Ramirez, Sophia Roe, Simone Tong, Fabian von Hauske, and Thomas Raquel, a pastry chef with Filipino roots.

While he was on the journey to becoming a medical student, Los Angeles native Thomas took a different route and pursued culinary arts at age 16, studying at the California School of Culinary Arts. After graduating, he flew to Paris to hone his skills in pastry. In 2008, he moved to Chicago and worked at L20 restaurant, and after four years became the pastry chef at two Michelin-starred Acadia.

In 2014, at age 27, Thomas became part of Eric Ripert's three Michelin-starred Le Bernardin in New York. He is now the restaurant's executive pastry chef. According to the restaurant's Facebook post, he was taught to cook by his Filipino grandmother. Noted Filipino chef Margarita Forés has enjoyed his food back in 2017, and expressed how happy she was that the restaurant not only uses Pinoy produce but is also led by a Pinoy chef. Apart from cooking, Thomas is also starting to dip his toes into modeling with a fall campaign for Saks Fifth Avenue Menswear.

Chef Thomas' creations: Rhubarb-blackberry compote with yogurt sorbet, basil oil, and hibiscus tuile; and Forêt noire devils food cake

In the kitchen, Thomas is known for creating beautiful plated desserts. According to his website, his style is "influenced by his travels and experiences, but strongly informed by an obsession with seasonality."

Currently, Vogue is sharing on Instagram some of the chef's plant-based meals you can do at home.