After many months of hard work with my brand manager Michelle Lawton of Joyful Plate, graphic and web designers Favoreat, photographer Lauren Magenta, my mother as my sous chef, my father as my business consultant and my ever supportive husband, I can finally announce our website launch!

I am so excited to bring the Vanillamore brand to life and tell our story!

For the last 2 years, Vanillamore has been an idea in my head, and eventually on paper. It’s been a journey, starting with a white board in my dads office outlining the top 5 most important values that my future company must have. While some of these have evolved since that day in August 2013, some of the stand out themes on this list were:

immersive experience, unique delivery of product, and diverse flavor combinations

We were introduced to Michelle Lawton in November 2013 and with these values in mind, she and I set out to scour the entire NYC dessert market. We ate our way through NYC’s best bakeries and pastry shops, making notes of what flavors stood out, what trends worked (or didn’t), what service was like and overall look and feel of each location. (Thankfully, we did a lot of walking from place to place, as I didn’t know at the time that I would have a wedding dress to fit into!). Around the same time, we attended the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and visited many bakeries and pastry shops throughout the city. Michelle and I then sat down and evaluated our findings. What did I like? What worked? What I would do differently? We discovered that there is a fascination with desserts in our culture right now; we have a desire to treat ourselves, to look for a sense of experimentation and discovery, we have a fascination with flavor, and to seek out innovative businesses.

After a great deal reflection on my work experiences and organizing the overwhelming amount of information and ideas we had gathered, we narrowed down the brand personality. Again we defined a list:

pastry-centric, sensorial, experiential, simply smart, and welcoming

Next, was the most difficult and time consuming part of the journey so far – naming! (I know there will be much larger challenges ahead, but this was the most taxing so far!) After many weeks, hundreds of names and trademark considerations, we landed on Vanillamore Dessert Kitchen in April 2014.

This name is the perfect balance of clarity, creativity and intrigue.

“Vanilla”: my favorite ingredient. “More”: it’s about more than just ‘plain vanilla’. “Amore”: a love for vanilla and everything related to dessert. “Dessert Kitchen”: we are not a typical bakery or pastry shop, we have a focus on an immersive kitchen environment with a focus on desserts.

We then worked closely with the designers at Favoreat to create our logo and visual branding. In June 2014, looking at a presentation of different options, I knew immediately which option was the perfect representation of Vanillamore.

Over the course of the next several months, I continued to teach part time at Sur la Table which soon transformed into full-time resident chef position in the Yonkers store. Throughout this time, I continues to work closely with Michelle on conceptualizing the Vanillamore story, designing menu, and recipe testing.

In January 2015, I decided that it was time to focus on Vanillamore full time. Along with my super-mom sous chef, we spent several weeks recipe testing our finalized menu. In April & May 2015, we did some tasting evenings with family and friends to get some feedback which I used to modify many recipes and plating that I had initially created. Our menu and desserts will always evolve, but I now have the confidence that our opening menu will impress and intrigue our customers.

Now, it’s June 2015, our website is live and we can tell our story!

I will use this blog to tell more about the Vanillamore story, share some of our favorite recipes, and write about the journey to the grand opening of our retail location coming late fall 2015! Stay tuned for more.

xo, Risa

A party without cake is just a meeting. – Julia Child

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