Absolutely everything about Patisserie Chef Abongile Valashiya, known affectionately as Abby, is sheer sweetness and joy, from her upbeat and bubbly personality to her warm and friendly smile. All of which comes through in the sweet treats and decadent delights she lovingly conjures up in the kitchen.
“When I started here, they didn’t have a dessert chef, and I just thought to myself ‘oh my gosh, I’ve been set up for this!’ And, as it turns out, I’d say that it worked out pretty well!” she says with a laugh and a proud smile.
That said, Abby admits she was not always so confident. “When I got here, Chef Debby was still the Head Chef, and I told her that I can’t just start doing desserts, that I’m not ready. And she just said that it’s what she wants me to do. It was scary for me at first, but she helped guide me until it all just started to become natural for me.”
Abby says that she draws a lot of her inspiration from browsing photos of desserts online. “If I see something that I like which another chef tried, I start to imagine what my own spin on the dish would be.”
“It also depends on my mood. Just the other day I was writing up some ideas I’ve been wanting to try, and afterwards, I realised that almost all of them involved blueberries. So I’d say I’m definitely going through my blueberry season right now.”
Another all-time favourite dessert for Chef Abby is her Chocolate Mousse with a liquid centre. “In the middle is Amarula and peppermint chocolate, and when you cut into it there’s just this magical taste experience. I’m very theatrical I think. I like to experience my food and I always want to share that experience with others.”