Meet our staff: Richie

Born and raised in Indonesia, Budiharto (“Richie”) had every intention of enrolling in college to study Industrial Engineering. Perhaps it was all the food television he had been watching, but he had a change of heart. “I liked the idea of creating something that makes people happy and having the opportunity to do that on a regular basis”.  No more industrial engineering, Richie enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Arizona and obtained a degree with a specialty in Pastry and Baking.

While he was enjoying living and working in and around Arizona and Las Vegas, Richie’s brother, who was in New York for school, urged him to come visit him in New York. “I came to visit for 2 weeks and I fell in love with New York”.

During his education Richie volunteered to work with many great chefs and it was during this time that he was truly exposed to all that can be created with chocolate. Assisting the likes of Chef Stephane Treand (MOF) and Chef Jacques Torres (MOF), he learned a great deal about techniques and witnessed their “amazing vision and creativity” in the medium of chocolate. “Having worked with them inspires me to become a master chocolatier.”

Since Richie had fallen in love with New York City and with chocolate, it seems only natural that he has found a home here at Jacques Torres Chocolate! “I love to work on seasonal chocolate pieces and special projects like the production of the chocolate Stanley Cups, but there are also so many other elements to learn here. I’m learning production techniques, machine operation and from Chef Jacques I can also learn about business ownership and management.” Richie’s ultimate goal is to one day own and operate his own chocolate business.

Great Chef Jacques Torres

At age 21, Jacques Torres became the youngest chef ever to earn the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Patisserie, an honor bestowed only on the top pastry chefs in France. Three years before receiving this honor, Le Figaro, the nationally syndicated French newspaper, reported that Mr. Torres had ‚“extraordinary flair‚” and was ‚“without a doubt the greatest pastry chef working in any restaurant in France today.‚”

When Great Chefs taped him, Torres was in New York. Le Cirque 2000, during his tenure, garnered the highest ratings given by the New York Times, New York magazine, and Newsday. It was also award Gault Millau´s highest rating, 19-1/2 out of a possible 20 toques, and named Best in America by international publications too numerous to mention.

To Torres, the secret of his sweet success is quite simple. ‚“If you love to work with dough and chocolate and sugar, then you give it everything you have,‚” he says. Add invention to effort, he recommends. ‚“You have to come up with something new, something else, always, always.‚”

At Le Cirque, Torres always offered something new. Dream desserts with names like Swan Lake, Angel´s Delight, Cupid´s Coupe, or Manjari Harlequin Hearts, all of which were featured in the New York Times magazine. True patissier poetry, they require the patience of Petrarch to produce.

Torres learned patience and the basics of his art in his formal training in France. He started his apprenticeship in pastry at age 15 in the small village of Bandol, where he lived with his family. From there he moved to the south of France to Negresco in Nice, where he stayed for 8 years. Before moving to Le Cirque, Torres traveled extensively. In Tokyo he received the Medal of Honor of the Confederation of Japan. In 1988 he joined the Ritz-Carlton hotels as corporate pastry chef, training other pastry chefs across the U.S. In 1989 he was enticed to Le Cirque with a brand new pastry kitchen. His everyday job there is to serve celebrities, royalty, and clients – friends – who love his creations.

Success has come early for Torres, but his talent, dedication, and determination — not to mention creativity in coming up with ‚“something new, something else, always, always,‚” are a promise decades of sweet surprises.

The ‚“something new‚” in the new millennium is Jacques Torres Chocolates. Looking slightly more mature on his website,, than he did flying into the kitchen at Le Cirque 2000 on rollerblades to tape with Great Chefs, he offers champagne truffles, bars of chocolate, covered chocolates, items for weddings and events, and even ‚“I [heart] Jacques Torres chocolates‚” T´s and aprons and caps. Always something new.