For Vanessa O’Donnell, pastry chef, restaurateur and native Texan, life keeps getting sweeter.
“I’ve always had a strong interest in baking,” says the native Texan who was born in El Paso, raised in Sealy and baked her first memorable dessert when she was nine years old. “Dewberry cobbler, made with dewberries picked fresh from the fence,” she fondly recalls.
But it wasn’t until O’Donnell experienced a real sense of restaurant life, in the pastry kitchen at Brennan’s of Houston, that she discovered her true calling. Recognizing her passion to pursue “the sweet life,” O’Donnell enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston’s Baking and Pastry program.
Shortly before graduating in 2004, O’Donnell began an internship at the Houston Country Club. There she continued to perfect her pastry skills for three years. It was her experience and success acquired at HCC that provided O’Donnell the confidence she needed to take a sweet leap of faith in creating Ooh La La, a boutique dessert bakery located in Katy, TX.
“For a lot of people, launching a dessert bakery at the age of 26 might be intimidating,” says O’Donnell. “But coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it was the natural next step. I knew that if I followed my passion, I would have a good shot at success.”