CHEF KIMBERLEY VY
Since 2015, Kimberley Vy has led the pastry team at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, B.C. Kimberley is inspired by those who tell stories, facilitating creativity and social change through food and art. Her food philosophy has focused on utilizing sustainable, local, and seasonal ingredients while celebrating flavors inspired by her cultural heritage.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
I knew I wanted to work in a field that allowed myself to be creative and detail-oriented.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
Many of the desserts I have made are culturally influenced by my upbringing, many of the items are a play on places/foods/things I was exposed to as a kid.
Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
Definitely my mom and all the aunties and grandmas in my life. My interest in food was set in stone from a young age as I worked with them to prepare all the dishes our families enjoyed together.
How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
It’s been very challenging, I’m very fortunate that I have been able to maintain the same team and I am very grateful they stayed throughout most of the pandemic. As a team we initiated a new storefront through an online commerce platform, offering baked goods for curbside pick-up during the lockdowns. Once things began opening up, Kitchens began facing further staff shortages with people leaving the industry due to lack of work & burnout among other reasons. Now more than ever the industry is shifting toward more equity and inclusivity.
What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the proudest of taking part in?
Our property is Green Key Certified and was the first carbon-neutral hotel in the province. The building’s unique design allows a marine cooling system to pump ocean water from the harbor through for incredibly efficient temperature controls. All waste is sorted and diverted from landfill with regular auditing to maintain our green status. On the food and beverage side, we aim to source as locally and seasonally as possible to limit our carbon footprints as well.
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
I really love how social media has made the world of pastry so much more accessible. We are able to see the trends by the minute and more pastry chefs are beginning to share their creativity to a larger audience. I would love to continue to see this trend of collaboration between creatives.
What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
I do believe that food and pastry bring people together. It can start a conversation, show love and help express or convey feelings and creativity. Pastry can expand your mind, challenging your understanding of flavor, textures, and composition by being playful and tongue-in-cheek. We are also able to influence the environment by mindfully sourcing ingredients, and engineering menus to fit sustainable practices while educating community on the way to move forward.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
One of my earliest and fondest memories as a kid was our family trips to Asia. We would visit my father's family and my aunts would always take me to the village night market where we would do a circuit of 2-3 savory foods and then finish off at my favorite dessert stand. This stand would serve warm coconut sago pudding with chunks of Thai banana in small bags tied off with elastic bands so you could carry them along with you on your journey. I would always get 2 bags, 1 for the walk home and 1 for my grandpa. I always remembered getting the first bag and biting/tearing off the corner to slurp the dessert on the way home, to this day, the taste or smell of this dessert gives me grand feelings of nostalgia.
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
Pastry Chefs tend to be patient, tidy, organized, and methodical leaving them to strive for “perfect” at all times. With that said, your toughest critic will be yourself. Learn to be compassionate toward yourself and know that when things go wrong, they are usually out of your control. Remember you are human and allowed to make mistakes but your perseverance and tenacity will always get you through it.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
I love that the program highlights other pastry chefs and professionals within the industry creating another avenue to share ideas with each other and expanding the network of learning and creativity.
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
It was through pastry school that I was exposed to the Valrhona brand and its product line. Our instructor did tastings with the class and I remember Valrhona always being the smoothest and tastiest of the bunch. I have had the privilege of being able to use Valrhona regularly about 8 years ago and I also had the privilege of attending a masterclass at the Brooklyn location. I had attended other pastry academies but Valrhona really stood out to me. I loved how the school focused on smaller classes giving you more 1 on 1 time with the instructors while also creating a fun environment to inspire, learn and make new friends. The classes themselves were extremely comprehensive and the resources the school/company provided continue to be invaluable.
Keeemmm, Kimbo, Kimchi
Celsius or Fahrenheit?
BOTH. As a Canadian we were taught metric but a lot of our equipment, books and schooling utilized both, so I’m all mixed up!
Favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
Itakuja – the aroma when you first open the bag is so scrumptious
I don’t have a favorite restaurant per se but I do love anything from Patrice Patisserie! I’m sad I won’t be able to visit there again before it shuts down ☹
Favorite flavor pairing with chocolate?
I love the salty, sweet & spicy combo. Don’t bring it around me because it won’t last long.
Coffee or Tea?
Any tea hands down, always iced without any sweetener!
I love cassava and plantain chips; their starch content is so high that they always stay so crispy and they are SO addictive.
Favorite kitchen tool?
My medium paring knife, I’ve had this thing since pastry school so it’s very sentimental… it’s also almost 20 years old and still kickin’ it!
Who do you follow on social media?
I love @bapt.patisserie . They combine two of my favorite things, anything kawaii and fine pastry. EVERYTHING IS SO CUTE!!
Favorite type of dessert to make?
I love making layer cakes and getting the opportunity to cut into them. Seeing how perfect your layers of cake and icing are is SO satisfying. My favorite dessert to eat would be cookies and cream ice cream, it’s such a classic flavor and super comforting.