2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Giane Cavaliere of Rogue 24

2014 Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Giane Cavaliere of Rogue 24
December 2014

A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Giane Cavaliere grew up under the culinary tutelage of her mother and grandmother. Her mother’s terminal illness meant young Cavaliere and her sister assumed culinary responsibility within their family at a young age, taking on that mantle when their mother could no longer carry it. As a teen, Cavaliere pursued a career in ballet, until 1994, when she immigrated to the United States as a student of photography. Cavaliere imagined launching a career in the fashion and beauty industry, but soon fell in love with the art of darkroom photo development. All the while she continued to bake—for herself and for friends. When photography went digital, and she saw her beloved craft becoming obsolete, Cavaliere found yet another creative outlet: pastry.

Cavaliere’s keen attention to detail and determination to become a pastry chef landed her at Posh Supperclub and Restaurant in Washington, D.C. She also tackled a morning baking shift at CakeLove. Eager for the challenge of fine dining, Cavaliere moved on to a position as pastry assistant at PS7’s Restaurant. There, under the tutelage of Pastry Chef Zak Miller (now of Coquette in New Orleans), she began crafting her own dishes and style, leaving her mark on the dessert menu. In 2011, Cavaliere had her first tasting and consequently stepped into the position left vacant by 2010 Rising Star Pastry Chef Chris Ford at Chef RJ Cooper’s fine-dining Rogue 24. There she pursues her creativity without bounds, pushing the envelope with experimental techniques and presentations. In 2013, Cavaliere took part in the 4th Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition, which whet her appetite for more pastry challenges.

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Interview with Washington, D.C. Area Rising Star Pastry Chef Giane Cavaliere of Rogue 24

Meha Desai: Why did you start cooking professionally?
Giane Cavaliere:
I used to be a painter. My mom used to cook. Since I was little I would help her. Even now, I use a lot of her recipes regularly. I worked in a camera store before, and I loved working with my hands. But then I missed the craft; I would go home and make truffles. So I started working for free to learn. Eventually, I became a pastry assistant for Peter Smith at PS7’s and learned how to be more refined. By the time I left, half the menu was mine. When I quit, I wanted to stage and travel. I had no plan. At that time, money was not a problem. I had heard of Chris Ford, and I wanted to stage with him. When I applied, I thought I would be pastry cook. Before I knew I was doing a tasting for the pastry chef role! It was my first tasting ever. I have my freedom here; RJ [Cooper] lets me do what I want to do. Rogue 24 is my playground. The plates are my canvas. I’m comfortable here. 

MD: Do you have a mentor?
Zak Miller at Coquette. I sucked the life out of him. I told him, “teach me everything you know.” He introduced me to this kind of food, showed me another world. Also, Tiffany McIsaac here in D.C.

MD: How was competing at last year’s International Pastry Competition (IPC)?
It was my first time competing. I didn’t want to go, but RJ pushed. I loved it there! I learned a lot about myself, I grew. I didn’t do much research beforehand, because I wanted to go as me. I met so many people—that’s how I met Tommy [Raquel]. It really was so much fun, and I’m dying to go back.

MD: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your career?
Working here every day. For the first week I could not believe that RJ had put me in this position. It’s just me here,and I was thrust into the deep end of the pool—it’s hard. Every single diner gets dessert, even on a slow night. I don’t have assistants. I do it alone.

MD: What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of making the life change I did and never looking back. I gave up my job, my life, went back to having roommates at 30—but I did it. 

MD: What's your five-year plan?
I would love to have a dessert bar, with pairings. Or a pastry restaurant—like the food here, but with a pastry focus. A destination, like ChikaLicious. 

MD: What is your food philosophy?
Food should be as natural as possible, and you should have fun with it.

MD: Describe your pastry in one sentence.
Not cookie cutter. It’s more organic, some of my shapes are not as clean as other chefs, but I like them that way. It’s borderline whimsical.