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Happy Thanksgiving : Meet Celebrity Haitian American Chef Vanessa Cantave

Vanessa Cantave, chef and entertaining expert delights her clients and “foodie” fans through her passion and expertise in all things food! Vanessa is the Executive Chef and principal in her own catering company, Yum Yum NYC, which offers private chef and catering services. Founded in 2005, Yum Yum provides full service catering for both high-profile, private and corporate clients including Kiehl’s, Nike, Intel and Target Corp. By 2009, the company was grossing over $2 million in sales annually and even launched a casual option for corporate clients called Yum Yum 2 Go. Yum Yum has served celebrities such as M.I.A, Interpol, director Spike Lee, and music producer Mark Ronson. From over 3,600 guests at the Creatorʼs Project NYC Launch to a private Christmas Eve dinner for Grammy Award Winning artists Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, Vanessa’s menus remain consistently refined, yet unfussy. Visit Her Site Here

Vanessa Cantave was born in Washington, D.C., in 1977. She is of Haitian descent. Her father served in the United States Army, which resulted in Cantave’s moving around a lot as a child.She lived in Mons, Belgium, until the age of six. Her family then returned to the U.S. and lived in various places including Arizona, suburban Chicago, and northern Virginia. Cantave graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 1999. She earned her B.A. in political science with a minor in French. After completing her degree, Cantave worked in several positions in banking, marketing and advertising. She worked at the FDIC in Washington, D.C, and later the Federal Reserve in Atlanta, Georgia. She then moved to New York City and accepted a position at the Ogilvy & Mather agency. In 2005, Cantave attended an open house for the French Culinary Institute, where she says she “fell in love.” She decided to quit her job and pursue her passion for food.

Cantave began attending the French Culinary Institute (FCI) in 2005. While attending FCI, she interned at the Daniel restaurant in Manhattan’s upper east side, where she studied under renowned French chef Daniel Boulud.After graduating as the valedictorian of her class, she began working as a private chef in New York City and shortly thereafter co-founded her own catering company, Yum Yum Chefs, Inc. (later changed to Yum Yum NYC).Based in DUMBO, Brooklyn, Yum Yum NYC offers catering services for private clients and corporations and themed cooking classes. Yum Yum NYC’s corporate clients have included Google, Kiehl’s, Intel, Nike, Converse, Cartier, Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew, and the Target Corporation. Cantave has also catered events for celebrity clients like Interpol, Mark Ronson, M.I.A., Mike Piazza, George Soros, and Spike Lee. She prepared Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner for Grammy-award-winning artists Elvis Costello and Diana Krall after the birth of their twins in 2006. In the summer of 2011, she cooked for celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson at “The Creeks,” Ron Perelman’s estate in the East Hamptons, at a benefit to raise money for the Apollo Theater. Guests of the benefit included Bon Jovi, Diane von Fürstenberg, John Legend, and Mary J. Blige.

Cantave is classically trained in French cuisine and cooks in the New American style, incorporating her Haitian influence. She emphasizes the use of seasonal produce and high-quality, organic ingredients.

In 2011, Cantave competed in the Bravo television show “Rocco’s Dinner Party,” a reality cooking competition hosted by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito. She catered a French-themed dinner party, for which competitors were asked to put a personal twist on a recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The guests of the dinner party were Law & Order actress S. Epatha Merkerson, author Julie Powell, comedian and actor Michael Ian Black, model Leah DeWavrin, event planner Marcy Blum, and Alain Sailac, the Executive Vice President and Dean Emeritus of the French Culinary Institute. Cantave served Haitian-style braised short ribs. She won the competition and a $20,000 monetary prize.

Cantave has appeared on a number of other television programs, including NBC’s The Today Show,Better, FOX & Friends, and the FOX Business Network. She has also been featured in Teen Vogue, Daily Candy, Uptown, Essence, Jet, Black Enterprise, the New York Post, and The Huffington Post. Cantave supports the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), which works to provide career opportunities in the culinary industry for underprivileged youth. She has been involved since 2008. – source

TODAY Show Dec. 1, 2011

TODAY Show May 2, 2012

Vanessa with Better hosts, JD and Audra

Not My Mama’s Meals (Season 3) Shoot
CBS 2 Morning News

Essence Magazine – December 2012
Fox & Friends Weekend

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