Lauren Resler - Best Pastry Chefs 2013

She had us at masa chips.

Then Lauren Resler of Empellón Cocina and Empellón Taqueria, our New York City pick for Tasting Table's Best Pastry Chefs 2013, blindsided us with her superb desserts, including a rompope gelatina, a boozy, jiggling embodiment of Mexican eggnog.

In addition to helming the restaurants' sweet selections, Resler crafts the bedrock on which the food of these two lauded restaurants is literally built: fine flour tortillas, and those spectacular masa chips.

But oh, the desserts! Resler creates unpredictable meal-enders that often have a savory edge. For Tasting Table's Best Pastry Chefs 2013 feature, we asked Resler–as well as six other chefs from around the country–to reconsider a favorite childhood treat.

She tackled the divisive Jell-O, reworking it into a striking, refreshing Lemongrass Gelatin with Yogurt, Green Apple and Pistachio Meringues (get the recipe).

When Resler's involved, there's always room for dessert.