Bacchus Management has signed on a talented new chef to lead its pastry program throughout its restaurants, which include the restaurant group behind Michelin-starred Spruce, The Saratoga, and The Village Pub in Woodside. Chef Janina O’Leary will oversee the entire company’s pastry programs, as well as its two bakeries: Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto and The Village Bakery in Woodside.
O’Leary, who moved to San Francisco from Austin, TX in August, has an impressive background that includes New York fine-dining (Per Se, Del Posto, Restaurant Daniel) and bakeries (Bouchon), and a nomination as a James Beard Awards rising star chef in 2014. In Austin, she developed the pastry department at the W Hotel’s Trace restaurant, followed by a stint at LaV, a French restaurant. After leaving LaV, she and her fellow-chef husband Sean decided to “do something different,” stepping out of fine-dining and launching a doughnut pop-up called Playdough, taking its old-school brioche doughnuts to restaurants like Franklin BBQ.
Luckily for San Francisco, O’Leary is bringing doughnuts to the menus of Bacchus restaurants, as well as more desserts that fit into her style of nostalgic desserts. “The style I have is bringing back things from your childhood,” O’Leary told Eater SF. “Desserts that are still playful but more grown up.” That includes homemade ho hos, doughnuts with boozey dipping sauce, and a triple chocolate baby cake with nutella.
O’Leary says that she’s the first to take on this position at Bacchus, one that she’s been interested in pursuing during her career, and which will allow her to work in both bakeries and fine-dining restaurants. “From the beginning, the idea was to get experience in so many areas that I could do something like this in the future,” says O’Leary. “It’s part of the challenge and what I really enjoy — ho hos in one place and poached pears in another.”