FOODSTUFF: Baking soon: Vanessa Quellec

Cape Town’s foodie options are looking up. Reuben Riffel will be opening a 170-seater Reuben’s at the One&Only in October (he initially said no but Sol made an offer he couldn’t refuse) modelled on the food of his Franschhoek bistro. It doesn’t sound like an easy ride - the demands of breakfast, lunch and dinner means 28 chefs will be employed.

dsc_0027.jpg Another exciting development is that pastry chef Vanessa Quellec will open a bakery with restaurateur Giorgio Nava (of 95 Keerom and Carne) in Kloof Street in November 2010. She’s spent time in Italy recently learning about Italian pastries, gelato and chocolates, and will be reproducing some of her favourites for Capetonian customers.

I’m already salivating. At only 29, Vanessa is one of the most talented pastry chefs I’ve come across. She loves dreaming up creative sweet stuff and has an impressive CV that includes working in pastry in New York at Le Cirque restaurant, picking up tips from Frenchman François Payard at Payard Patisserie, and later spending time at Gordon Ramsay New York.

Vanessa’s all-butter brioche can produce tears of joy in those who eat it. Her prune and Armagnac soufflé will make new converts, and her chocolate skills more than satisfy. I remember a dinner at Vanessa’s previous Cape employer The Roundhouse. Dessert was an unforgettable triumph of bittersweet chocolate creations on one plate, combining 49%, 64% and 72% imported Felchlin chocolate in a chewy chocolate dacquoise square with chocolate and coconut praline and caramel under a glossy tempered dark chocolate square. A chocolate fondant tart in chocolate pastry oozed decadently while perfect ice-cream rounds resembling river pebbles offered intense dark chocolate, and a lighter, unusually pungent pink peppercorn version.