Vaniyé, a real education in French pastries and desserts!
While French pastries and deserts may not be part of traditional Kiwi culture, but Sonia and husband Laurent are doing their best to educate local palates to the French patisserie experience.
Humble beginnings selling through local markets not only provided an outlet for their pastries, but it also taught Sonia and Laurent what local palates were looking for in French-inspired pastries. Sonia recalls that everyone was just "gobsmacked' with the desserts, but they were too scared to eat them."People said they look too nice to eat." But week by week, they won over the hearts and mouths of discerning Aucklanders and the business grew. It's been 8 years since they first set up their Windsor Street, Parnell store and Vaniyé Patisserie has established itself as the go-to French patisserie.
Born of Thai and German parents, Sonia spent her early years in her parents' European style restaurant in Thailand. They have taught her everything about food and hospitality. After her Diploma in European Languages, Sonia wanted to go to live in France. But it was not until she came to live in Paris that her love affair with French desserts began.
What intrigued her the most was the process of making cakes and pastries. "There are so many steps to it - the play of flavors, the immaculate precision, the endless creativity" she recalls. Sonia worked with the most renowned chefs who had traveled a lot. They are her inspirations and mentor to this day. "You have the traditional French style desserts, but you also have spices and ingredient from Japan, Morocco, Thailand." That's what fascinating about French pastry, it's no longer just those traditional flavors, "you have infusions and influences from other cultures".
This infusion of flavors continues in Auckland, "We like to incorporate the flavor of another culture but we keep true to the French style." So too, the inspiration for new desserts and pastries comes from all directions. "Inspiration and ideas for a new pastry is so random. It can come from everywhere, nature, travel, people. Everything we make emphasizes on flavor and texture, which creates a beautiful eating experience. Because it's not something you eat every day, you want it to be exciting."
A lot of New Zealanders buy French pastries for special occasions while French customers buy a whole selection, just for a casual afternoon tea or desserts with friends and family, "they love to get one of each", she says.