Shop with a Chef: Amanda Cheng

September 1, 2008

Wayne Martin, of Four Seasons fame, opened his West Van neighbourhood joint, Fraîche, five months ago to rave reviews. But it was his 24-year-old pastry chef, Amanda Cheng, who was the surprise hit. After graduating from UBC with a degree in psychology, Cheng studied at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in New York and snagged a coveted internship at Park Avenue Café (now Park Avenue Summer). Under executive pastry chef Richard Leach, she says, she learned one of the most important lessons a young chef can: how to achieve consistency.

Cheng’s menu of old-fashioned desserts at Fraîche reads like a roundup of Nonna’s classic hits: crème brûlée, lemon tart, panna cotta, and a “malt bar” (an Ovaltine-infused chocolate mousse). She sources most of her specialty ingredients—like Trablit (a coffee extract), cardamom pods, and almond flour—from a wholesale importer, Far-met (604-876-2241; Far-met.com), but you might also spot her at Asia Market (265 E. Hastings St., 604-688-6824), where she buys banana leaves on which she plates her desserts. Shopping for home, Cheng will duck into Bosa Foods (1465 Kootenay St., 604-253-5578; Bosafoods.com) for Kalamata olives (or any other purple variety). She also loves oversize loaves of sangak (Iranian flatbread) from Persian bakery Afra (1521 Pemberton Ave., 604-987-7454), and Pullman-style sweet white bread from Fujiya (various locations, 604-608-1050; Fujiya.ca). And if she doesn’t get her chocolate fix at work, she heads straight for Thomas Haas (998 Harbourside Dr., 604-924-1847; Thomashaas.com).

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