Foodie: Gallery Pastry Shop’s Ben Hardy

A gentleman wearing an apron works in a busy pastry kitchen.
Ben Hardy in the kitchen at Gallery Pastry Shop.

Photos by Tony Valainis

Ben Hardy must be in the right line of work. When the chef and co-owner of Gallery Pastry Shop—famous for confections that are as drop-dead gorgeous as they are delicious— talks about sugar, the foundational ingredient of his business, he has stars in his eyes. “It’s simple, and it’s complex,” he says. “It can do anything.”

He’s going to need a lot more of it in the next year, as he and partner Alison Keefer build a second location of Gallery Pastry Shop, this time in the Old Northside neighborhood on College Avenue, offering sweet treats, grab-and-go items, and daily brunch. “A large part of what we do centers around celebration,” says Hardy. “It’s not just a transaction. It’s a connection.”

FAVORITE THINGS: (1) Croissants. “Making them is a labor of love. There’s so much life in a croissant.” (2) Gin. “I like it with tonic or fruit juice.” (3) Chocolate mousse. “It’s the one thing I taste every time I make it.” (4) Hot Pot dinners. “We invite our friends, turn on music, and just have fun.”

Hardy’s interest in pastry began in high school, when his mother assigned him and his brothers jobs baking cookies. “I was so meticulous,” he says. “I remember going through every product dozens of times.” After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh because it was the top school he could drive to, gigs followed at hotels, small restaurants, and big bakeries, then a teaching position at The Chef’s Academy. It was there that he met Keefer, and they decided to take a swing at their own business. A wholesale macaron company grew into the busy bakery in SoBro, followed by a shipping firm, macs.well. Through it all, he’s had one philosophy: “It all comes down to being genuine. That’s what brings customers back.”

Enjoy Hardy’s recipe for chocolate ganache.