Surrounded by flavours and colours, Valérie Lucas, a chef with a passion and a commitment, invites us to visit her family business, the CASSAVA bakery & patisserie. Amid a blend of tradition and audacity, she unveils the secrets of her success and explains how she revisits ‘traditional baking’ with the help of the local produce of Reunion Island.

A culinary voyage featuring the local products of Reunion

Valérie greets us with a friendly smile at her lovely bakery & patisserie in Saint-Paul on the west coast of Reunion Island. “I’ve had a passion for cooking and local produce ever since I was a little girl”, she confides enthusiastically. “But it was about ten years ago that I decided to turn my passion into my profession.”

After training in Lyon, the French gastronomy capital, Valérie Lucas pursued her culinary career alongside Daniel Jarrin, who is now her husband and a baker at CASSAVA. Together, they have travelled to every part of France as well as abroad, where they have acquired a wide range of skills and enhanced their creativity. They then chose to settle on Reunion and open a bakery there. “It was a return to the roots, an opportunity to make good use of our expertise and showcase our island’s precious products in an innovative and original way”, the chef tells us with emotion. Among these treasures, sweet potatoes take pride of place in her recipe book. “They have an incredible variety of colours and flavours. We wanted to include them in our creations to offer our customers a unique gustatory experience.”

Bold and creative cuisine

CASSAVA is famous for its bold creations and constant desire to innovate. The chef loves taking traditional baking off the beaten track to offer her surprising creations, like the vegetarian options that appeal to an increasing number of consumers. “It is vital for us to remain attentive to our customers’ expectations and to evolve accordingly. We constantly push the boundaries of our imagination in the aim of surprising them.” Beyond her artistic baking, Valérie is keen to create a warm, family atmosphere within her establishment. “We are a small team, like a real family. Sharing ideas and experiences is essential if we are to nurture our mutual creativeness.” Every member of the staff brings their own personal touch, which helps the business to flourish.

A memorable culinary experience

To Valérie, her business is much more than just a shop and she is optimistic about the future. “Our aim is to continue showcasing local products and passing on our passion for Reunion cuisine. We want to offer our clients a culinary experience they’ll never forget and make them curious about our island’s gems.” By the time we leave Valérie’s bakery & patisserie, we’re won over by the enthusiasm of this talented chef. Her audacity, creativity and commitment to local produce make her a key figure on the new culinary scene of Reunion Island. For breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack, pop into Cassava for a gourmet voyage in which every mouthful reveals the authentic taste of the ultimate island.

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