As pastry chef on the opening team of Park City, Utah’s beloved gathering spot Hearth and Hill four years ago, executive pastry chef Jessie Rae Nakoneczny helped the restaurant garner multiple awards and recognitions including Park Record's Park City’s Best Award for Best Restaurant and Salt Lake Magazine’s prestigious Blue Plate Award in 2021 before being appointed to her current role of executive pastry chef of LRFDE. As part of the group's ambitious plans to open three new concepts across the region in 2022 and ‘23, including the brand new 2,600 square feet catering outpost and café, Hill’s Kitchen, making its debut this past spring, the pastry chef is the powerhouse at the helm of the pastry program for all current and future concepts under its umbrella.

She creates all sorts of fan favorites, including popcorn panna cotta, which she makes with cream base, butter and olive oil in an immersion blender, then adds toasted almond and popcorn chocolate crunch.

More recently, Nakoneczny crafted a strawberry lemon cake with rose hips.

“Now, people are wanting more health-conscious desserts that are less sugary,” she says. “That is a perceived value for them. That’s going to influence cooking and baking in general in the future.”

Originally from Alberta, Canada, the pastry chef loved baking from the start (her mother was a baker) and wound up at culinary school at Utah Valley University. Moving to Park City provided her with a deeper culinary experience, opening the door for experimentation. That’s where she thrives.

“I like organic and natural styles,” she points out.

Post-graduation, she accepted the lead pastry position in at luxury resort Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah in 2010 where she continued to hone her craft for the next five years. During the off-season, Jessie Rae joined the skeleton crew of The Saltry, a small, art-centric restaurant in Halibut Cove, Alaska where she took turns baking breads, crafting desserts and cooking for lunch and dinner services during the destination's busy summers. She then went on to work in pastry for other high-end tourist destinations in the area like Deer Valley and Sundance resorts as well as the acclaimed Stein Erikson Lodge before assuming the role of pasty chef on the opening team of the now beloved gathering spot and award-winning restaurant Hearth and Hill in 2019. 

Appointed to her current executive pastry chef position in 2021, she oversees the entire pastry program for Hearth and Hill in Park City in addition to all Leave Room For Dessert Eateries concepts including catering outpost and cafe Hill’s Kitchen, plus the forthcoming chef-driven restaurant Urban Hill and second location of Health and Hill, both of which will debut in Salt Lake City in 2022. At her home base of Hill’s Kitchen, find her preparing irresistible Danishes, muffins, homemade ice creams, elaborate cakes, and Canadian favorites like Nanaimo bars a three-layer treat made with coconut, chocolate, custard and nuts, along with a range of delightful desserts to coincide with her partner and culinary director Jordan Harvey’s menu at Hearth and Hill.