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Q & A with Dovetail’s Vera Tong

With the recent debut of Dovetail on the Upper West Side, pastry chef Vera
Tong dazzled both critics and diners with her truly inspired approach to classic desserts.  Prior to Dovetail, Vera Tong worked in the kitchen at Compass, where she first met chef John Fraser.  The two team up again at this highly received contemporary American restaurant where she not only has conceived an exemplary pastry menu, but also bakes the white cheddar cornbread that launch guests into dinner every evening.  Vera’s signature brioche pudding with bacon brittle will be making an encore on the spring menu, as will new additions, including a chocolate and coffee parfait, glazed pineapple crumble and a peanut butter frozen cheesecake.


Status: Single/Married/Divorced

Single

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Just a cook

How did you get into food?
My grandfather was a cook and so was my dad.

What was your first job in food?
Dunkin Donuts!!

What was it like working with chef Patti Jackson at Le Madri and how did she play a role in your focus on pastry arts?
I was actually a savory intern. I thought she was amazing…she made a wedding cake in less than an hour which included slicing, filling, fondant, and flowers!!!!  She is definitely a mentor. You always knew when Patti was in the kitchen and when she wasn’t.

You seem to take a decidedly classical approach to dessert.  How would define your approach?
I just believe in making good food…Something inventive is great, but only if it is delicious. Classics are classics for a reason.

You met John Fraser at Compass and subsequently made the move to Dovetail with him.  How did you develop a kinship with him and what propelled the two of you to team up again at his new restaurant? 
We have the same approach when it comes to food. I think that he’s a great chef and I’ve learned a lot from him. When he told me he was opening Dovetail, I told him I would be there for him without a doubt.

Do you always see eye to eye with each other? 
Almost always; it is rare for a pastry chef and chef to get along so well.

How do you feel about the recent battery of positive restaurant reviews you’ve received?
It has been overwhelming.  We’ve all worked really hard.  I am so grateful.

What’s your favorite dessert on the pastry menu right now?…

It’s actually on our Sunday supper menu. Baked chocolate mousse
with sweet potato marshmallow and honey whole wheat graham cracker.

What’s your least favorite dessert (and yes, you must pick one)?
Chocolate whisky parfait.

What dessert are you most excited to launch on the spring menu?
Chocolate beet cake with black cardamom crème fraiche sorbet.

What is your junk food of choice?
Cheez doodles of all sorts!!!

Other than Dovetail, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Gilt.

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Savory in sweets.

What trend do you wish would die already?
I plead the fifth!!

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Any new ventures or restaurants in the works?  Spill the beans…
I think I’ll be here for a while. It’s really too soon to say.  We’re still in the middle of an opening.

Address:  103 West 77th Street, nr. Columbus Ave.
Phone: (212)362-3800
 

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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