Born in Trinidad and raised in Philadelphia, 2013 Rising Star Artisan Davina Soondrum is proof that childhood dreams can come true. As a toddler, Soondrum’s mom let her watch “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” nearly every day, and at the tender age of 4, she told her parents she wanted to be a candy maker. Though her dream hibernated for more than a decade, Soondrum found herself drawn back to sweets after high school.
Transforming her growing interest into a career, Soondrum attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where she was mentored by Chef Patrick Coue and graduated with honors in 2006. In school, Soondrum worked the counter at Godiva, but degree in hand, she hit the pastry kitchen in earnest with roles at The Restaurant School (where she worked with another mentor, Randall Hoppmann), Daniel Stern’s Rae; Marcie Turney’s retail shop, Grocery; and Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Rittenhouse Square.
Soondrum was soon tapped to run the pastry program at Ryan and Eric Berley’s turn-of-the-century soda shop and ice cream parlor, Franklin Fountain. And as the brothers prepared to re-open Shane Confectionery next door, Soondrum was a natural choice to lead their candy making debut. Starting with 100-year-old recipes scratched onto envelopes, Soondrum began to master and re-imagine Shane’s offerings. She and her team make crave-worth chocolate bars, dip buttercreams by hand, and craft toy glass candies in antique iron molds. Made with the fervor and process of a scientist and the wild imagination of a child, Soondrum’s confections are the sweet outcome of a professional dream realized.