Jeffrey Munchel, the Executive Pastry Chef for Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., began his career as a young teenager, studying culinary arts at York Vocational High School in York, Pa. After high school, he joined the Elite United States Marine Corps in January 1997 as a baker where he gained a foundation for American-style baking.
In 2000, Munchel got out of the USMC and bought his first house. He planted his feet at Patisserie Poupon, a French Patisserie in Baltimore, Md. After two years of constant questions to owner Joseph Poupon, Joseph Poupon suggested the best French pastry school in the United States, so he went to Chicago, to The French Pastry School, and graduated in July 2004 from the pastry program.
While in school, Munchel worked at The Peninsula Hotel Chicago, in charge of the popular chocolate buffet. Munchel then came home to Baltimore and commuted to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC, followed by Patisserie Poupon. He continued taking professional classes to enhance his sugar craft.
In 2009, Munchel accepted the Pastry Chef position at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, where he had a staff of 8 doing 80% freshly made product in a $25-million-per-year F&B operation. In 2010, Munchel was a teacher’s assistant to World Champion Chef Ciril Hitz at the World Pastry Team Championships at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort for 10 days.
Munchel loves teaching and sharing knowledge with others. He has taught at the Community College of Baltimore County and Howard Community College as an adjunct faculty member.
Munchel found a new home back in Washington, DC in 2011 as the Executive Pastry Chef at the Metropolitan Club. During his tenure at the 150-year-old club, Munchel again attended the World Pastry Team Championships, while taking chocolate and sugar showpiece classes in 2012 at the Las Vegas Red Rock Casino. There, he was cast to compete in a Food Network show called Sugar Dome Cops and Robbers episode that aired in February 2012 and again in 2014 for season 5 of Halloween Wars. With the busiest time of the year coming at the club, Munchel prepared for the 24th annual Pastry Chef of the Year competition, held in New York March 3-4, 2013. He placed 6th out of 15 competitors.
After 2 years at the Metropolitan Club of DC, Munchel accepted the position of Executive Pastry Chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel DC. After 3 years, he was given an opportunity to apply at the Ritz Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach Puerto Rico. Given that his son’s mother is from Puerto Rico and wanted to move back home, it seemed too good to be true. After a long and hard interview process, Munchel was offered the position as the new Executive Pastry Chef for the Ritz Carlton Reserve 5 Star Hotel in Dorado Beach Puerto Rico, where he worked from 2016 to 2020.
Munchel has always been active in sports and loves wrestling (not the WWF kind). He is a huge Baltimore Ravens fan and used to teach trapeze class in Baltimore for fun. He loves being at the beach or on a boat—anything around water.
Today, Munchel is the Executive Pastry Chef for Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., a more than $30 million F&B operation, with the bake shop supporting 20 outlets across the property.