Tariq Hanna Executive Pastry Chef To say chocolate is in his blood is not far from the truth. Growing up in Nigeria, Tariq Hanna’s family lived a mere stone’s throw away from the national cocoa processing plant where aromas of roasting cocoa beans always filled the air.
Upon graduation from boarding school in England, Tariq moved to the United States to attend Lawrence Technical University in Detroit in hopes of becoming the next great architect. In an unforeseen move, Tariq soon found himself
enrolled in culinary school at Oakland Community College. It was here that he realized his true potential. While focusing on finding a job in hot food, Tariq dabbled in pastries on the side, soon discovering his talent and love for the art.
In 1993, Tariq opened his own family-operated pastry and catering shop, The Northville Gourmet, at the age of 24. The Northville Gourmet was a labor of love, exploring all facets of cooking and baking he learned from not only his extensive work background, but also from his mother. In the second year of business, Tariq was awarded “Best Bakery” and “Best Dessert” in Detroit by Metro Times readers.
After six years of successful self-employment, Tariq was offered the opportunity of a lifetime as the first casino pastry chef in Detroit. In December 1999, MotorCity Casino opened in Detroit to rave reviews for its foodservice. This gave Tariq the chance to truly develop his distinct style and approach to what by now was his obsession. It was here that Tariq immersed himself in all things pastry, from taking and teaching classes to performing in competitions on a local and national level, by now getting national attention.
During his tenure at MotorCity, Tariq participated in several cooking competitions on the Food Network including the National Bread and Pastry Championship, Chocolate Fantasy Competition, Cereal Bridges and Gingerbread Mansions Competition. In 2004, he was the first ever Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year and Runner-up National Pastry Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation.
After seven years at MotorCity Casino, Tariq joined forces with New Orleans native restaurateur and entrepreneur Joel Dondis. Sucré was a vision of Joel’s for three years and as it came to life both Tariq and Joel began work to make the dream a reality. As a result of Tariq’s innovation in the field of pastries, he was named Pastry Chef of the Year in 2007 by New Orleans Magazine. Tariq was also a finalist for Chef Magazine’s 2008 Chef of the Year. As this great city goes through a modern day renaissance, Sucré hopes to pave the way for a new style of great Louisiana desserts.
Joel Dondis Founder Joel Dondis began his culinary sojourn at the age of eleven, serving classic French cuisine to his family and friends in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cultivating his passion and talent through his formative years, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon graduation, Joel traveled to Europe to expand his knowledge of the culinary arts, fine dining and impeccable service. He worked at the Michelin-rated Schloss Hotel and Restaurant Gargantua in Frankfurt, Germany.
Bringing his practical experiences back home, Joel worked for the Brennan family at Mr. B’s Bistro. His next stop was at Emeril’s where he earned the responsibility and title of Sous Chef. Upon leaving his three-year stint at Emeril’s, Joel founded Joel’s Grand Cuisine, Inc, now called Joel Catering and Event Planning (JCEP).
JCEP is widely regarded to be a local and national industry leader and the largest off-premise catering and event planning company in New Orleans. In 2000, Joel founded Joel’s at the Hampton, which is the food and beverage provider for the Hampton Inn and Suites Convention Center.
Celebrating ten years of Joel Catering and Event Planning, Joel unveiled La Petite Grocery in 2004. Now an institution, this French-influenced restaurant is a favorite dining establishment among locals and tourists alike.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 2006 Restaurateur of the Year, Joel continues to delight locals and tourists with the opening of Sucré, a one-of-a-kind dessert boutique in New Orleans’ historic Garden District. Sucré launched in April 2007. Immediately following Sucré, Joel introduced Grand Isle in June 2007, a casual fresh seafood restaurant along Harrah’s Hotel and Casino Fulton Street development.
In 2008, Joel was named New Orleans Magazine’s 2008 Restaurateur of the Year. Since launching his first entrepreneurial venture in 1993, Joel has become a key player on the New Orleans hospitality and restaurant scene.