Rising Star Baker Rachel De Jong of Cou Cou Rachou - Biography

Charlottesville, VA

March 2022

Raised by food-loving artists in Charlottesville, Rachel De Jong’s childhood was missing something: baking. While her mother was the cook, De Jong became the de-facto baker of the family, preparing cakes and sweet treats for holidays. When she began contemplating her future, De Jong’s father suggested she model her career path after Julia Child. Following a short stint at James Madison University and an inspiring push from Baker’s Palette Chef Sheila Cervelloni, De Jong set off to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu.

After graduation, De Jong returned to Virginia to work as a pastry cook at the three-Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington where, during her four-year tenure, she worked her way up to pastry chef. She moved to Nashville in 2015 to become pastry chef at 5th & Taylor, then spent two years consulting and launching a macaron business. Craving a change of environment, De Jong fled to Los Angeles to assist her brother at his furniture company. Her sister, a restaurant interior designer, connected her with James Beard Award-winning chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, who hired her as pastry chef of French bistro Petit Trois, alongside Ludo Lefebvre. 

De Jong became eager to set firm roots in a city, and meanwhile, an opportunity opened up back in Charlottesville. In 2020, she returned to her hometown, partnered with the owners of the sprawling food and beverage space, The Wool Factory, and launched her own bakery, Cou Cou Rachou. Now with a colorful, airy brick and mortar and a pop-up within The Wool Factory, De Jong leads a large team of young bakers in preparing classic, flawlessly executed bread and pastries inspired by her French training.