Wunderkinds 2013: Mariana Delgado Gambini, 28
Owner, Chantilly Pâtisserie
In the words of sister/co-owner Maria, Bronxville resident Mariana Delgado Gambini “sleeps, dreams, and breathes pastry.” At 28 years old, Delgado Gambini, the former executive pastry chef at Westchester Country Club, is the owner of Chantilly Pâtisserie in Bronxville. At her French-inspired shop, Delgado Gambini works up to 100 hours per week to craft the fine confections coveted by a steady influx of loyal patrons.
Raised in an Argentinian family where food was the center of life, Delgado Gambini knew that a career in culinary arts was her calling. She studied cooking in high school, which led to a bachelor’s degree in Baking and Pastry from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Delgado Gambini started as a pastry chef at Westchester Country Club in 2006 and was named executive pastry chef at age 22, the club’s youngest at the time. There, under the watch of Master Chef Edward Leonard, she launched a custom cake-ordering service for members and contributed recipes to two of Leonard’s cookbooks.
A family trip to Paris in 2010 inspired the Delgado Gambini women to open their own pastry shop. “Parisian shops are chic, cute, and elegant,” says Delgado Gambini. “We said to ourselves, ‘This is what we want.’” Maria, a fine artist, decorates custom cakes. Their mother, Mirta, a designer, oversaw the transformation of an old TV repair shop into the elegant patisserie.
Today, Chantilly is turning out custom cakes to the tune of 40 per month, and it averages about 500 customers daily. In 2011, the shop was featured in the New York Times “Quick Bite” section, urging readers to give Chatilly’s “alternative” Valentine’s Day selections a shot. Says Chantilly regular Ana Madira, “The desserts are so beautiful, you don’t even want to eat them.”
The long hours have not worn Delgado Gambini down. “I started at 14 and have stuck with it for my entire life,” she says. “This is my passion; if I’m not 110 percent here, it’s not worth it for me."