After years of working around the world, from the Savoy in London to Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Katherine Clapner, has launched her own company, Dude Sweet Chocolate, to make a name for herself.
Chef Clapner served for many years as Executive Pastry Chef at Stephan Pyles restaurant, working directly with Chef/Owner Stephan Pyles on dessert menu development and execution. Clapner brings more than 20 years of experience teaching and working in the restaurant industry.
Since beginning her culinary career as a pastry cook at Sam’s Café in Dallas, Clapner has extended her training internationally and gained many years of valuable experience at notable establishments worldwide. She has worked under the instruction of recognized names such as Chef Charlie Trotter and Chef Kevin Graham, and has trained and held Pastry Chef positions at Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago), The Windsor Court Hotel (New Orleans), Hotel Cipriani (Venice, Italy), The Savoy Hotel (London, England), and in Austin, Texas, Mansion at Judges Hill, Ranch 616, and Liberty Tavern and Finn & Porter at the Hilton Hotel, Austin, Central Market (Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano and Houston as consulting chef).
A native of Texas, Clapner attended the University of Texas at Arlington. She later enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in New York, where she earned an Associates Degree in baking and pastry.
Clapner has been a featured pastry chef in such prestigious publications as Bon Appétit, The Chicago Tribune, Gambit Weekly, The Times Picayune, Restaurants and Institutions, Sante Magazine, FD Luxe, Dessert Professional, Austin Monthly (top pastry chefs), Austin Women’s Magazine (top women responsible for the Saveur Hill Country Wine and Food Festival), Austin Chronicle (top 10 food moments and one of four top women pastry chefs in Austin), 360 Magazine, D Magazine (best chocolatier 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), Dallas Observer (best chocolatier 2010, 2011) and on local television shows in New Orleans, Dallas, and Austin. Clapner was also a contributing writer for Southwestern Vegetarian, the acclaimed cookbook by Chef Stephan Pyles and featured on the Cooking Channel’s Food Crafters program.
In 2009, Clapner opened the first of her three gourmet chocolate shops, Dude, Sweet Chocolate. The concept started with a phone call from Merrill Lynch, the financial management company. Looking for custom gifts for top customers and employees, the company asked Chef Clapner to craft some special chocolates for the holiday season. Both before and while with Dude, Sweet Clapner has consulted with several restaurant groups the likes of PF Changs, Blue Mesa, Coast, Bolla and Brookshires Grocery.
Dude, Sweet is a minority owned business, with solid ties to local vendors and a commitment to utilizing green products whenever possible. Local and regional products used in the creation of both the product and the packaging include Lucky Layla Butter and Cream, Tom Spicer fruits and vegetables, Acme Stamp (packaging), Shiner Bock Beer, Breckenridge Distillery, Del Maguey Mescal, Louisiana Parique Tobacco and Zip Code Honey and Pollen.
Chef Clapner has also been a participant of Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, Sugar Land Food Festival, Aspen Food and Wine (Texas Outlaws) and Buffalo Gap Food Festival.
“The Texas influence has colored my approach to the chocolate line,” sums up Clapner. “People don’t realize that Texas cuisine is very global. These flavors have influenced my flavor profiles, as well as my sense of pride to be from Texas.” And Dude, that is sweet.