Meet Umber Ahmad, Tom Colicchio's Pastry Protégé

This brilliant amateur baker is about to go pro—with help from one of America's top talent spotters, chef Tom Colicchio.

This brilliant amateur baker is about to go pro—with help from one of America's top talent spotters, chef Tom Colicchio.

As anyone who watches Top Chef knows, it's not easy to impress Tom Colicchio. But Umber Ahmad dazzled him so much that he's backing her Manhattan pastry shop opening this summer, called Mah-Ze-Dahr. Ahmad met Colicchio when she was co-running an investment advisory firm he'd hired to help expand his Craft empire overseas. She boldly proposed he start a company supporting up-and-coming food artisans—starting with her. She then baked for him: chocolate shortbread, lemon cheesecake and her outstanding cream puffs. "It was like bringing a prayer book to the Pope," she jokes. But Colicchio says, "I just couldn't believe how good her stuff was. She lets the product speak for itself." (If you want to try her baked goods now, just check out her site, mahzedahrbakery.com.)

Recipe: Dark Chocolate-Cherry Shortbreads

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