By: Rebecca Feigelsohn
Xococava (pronounced “cho-co-cava”) is the ice cream parlour and dessert boutique located adjacent to its sister restaurant, Cava, in the pedestrian cul-de-sac known as Delisle Court. Both shops are owned and operated by chefs Chris McDonald and Doug Penfold, and Spanish and Latin American cuisine and flavours influence both menus. Xococava’s pastry chef and chocolatier, Sophia Andrade, makes in-house artisanal ice cream and sorbet, handmade truffles and chocolate bars, along with authentic pastries, like churros.
Andrade studied Cuisine and Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, and worked at Nota Bene for two and a half years, where she floated between cooking and pastry, finally settling on pastry due to its methodical and scientific nature. Andrade began cooking at home with her grandmothers at a young age and notes, “My family is Portuguese, and so eating in general, is a big thing for us – especially when it comes to desserts.” Her stint at Nota Bene kicked her pastry skills into gear, and Andrade came to Xococava in search of smaller volume, more diversity, and to hone her chocolate making skills.
Andrade admits she has been “spoiled,” as she has received exceptional guidance and the opportunity to develop her palate from her mentors, who include David Lee of Nota Bene, along with McDonald and Penfold, her current employers. Inspired by the work of Paco Torreblanca, a renowned Spanish pastry chef, Andrade enjoys sugar work and playing around with flavour combinations. However, she tends to shy away from trendy desserts, preferring instead to offer unique items to her customers, “the funkier the better” she says. Andrade also finds that reading biographies on other chefs is stimulating; her current library holds “Life, on the Line,” the moving story of chef Grant Achatz’s love of cooking and his survival of tongue cancer.
Though Andrade notes that her job is often stressful, especially during the busy holiday seasons, she loves the creative input she is able to give at Xococava and hopes to one day open up her own pastry/restaurant combination, akin to the since closed Payard Patisserie & Bistro in New York City. In the meantime, Andrade is focused on improving her pastry skills and travelling to epicurean hotspots such as Morocco, Spain, and Switzerland – for chocolate of course.
Visit Xococava to sample best sellers, such as their crispy caramel nut clusters, salted earl grey milk chocolate bar, salted caramel and hazelnut ice cream, and the maralumi chocolate sorbet.
Xococava is located next to Cava at 1560 Yonge St, (416) 979-9916
Rebecca Feigelsohn is a Toronto based editorial intern for Good Food Revolution. She recently completed her BA in English at McGill University and loves all things sweet. Follow her as she profiles Toronto pastry chefs @GoodFoodRevInt