Vanilla Sweet House brings a twist of French and Asian culture never before seen in Baton Rouge.
The heart and soul of Vanilla Sweet House is owner Zhen Yang. Despite owning a restaurant, Yang’s first career choice was not as an entrepreneur. Yang attend Texas A&M University for graduate school and received a degree in engineering. It wasn’t until her husband received a job offer from LSU that Yang moved to Louisiana and decided to pursue a career she was much more passionate about: baking.
Yang is a workhorse at her restaurant. She is an active presence in the kitchen, where she helps bake pastries and cakes and even works the front counter when she is short-staffed. This is all so she can foster the welcoming, humble atmosphere she wants to create.
Vanilla Sweet House is located at 3617 Perkins Road and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
“Baking is kind of like my passion,” Yang said. “I wanted to do baking, like cakes and desserts, because they have endless varieties and things you can do.”
Yang discovered her love for baking after moving to America to attend graduate school. She expressed that baking was a sort of comfort for her and a connection to her heritage.
Yang does not think there are many Asian-style restaurants around Baton Rouge, so she combined this with her knowledge of French baking to create a mix of French and Asian cuisine.
“What I’m trying to do is mix French and Asian styles together so that we could do something maybe unique and something for us only,” Yang said.
Yang shared some of the challenges she has faced with the restaurant. Because the restaurant is a start-up, finding a location was no small task. However, this ended up helping Yang find the perfect location.
Yang also expressed the difficulties involved with many new aspects she has learned about the food service industry, such as finding a contractor and electricians. Finally, she said there is always a struggle for Asian people looking for a taste of home in the U.S. — a struggle, however, that helped spark her passion for learning the cooking world.
“When Asians come into the United States, it’s sometimes pretty hard to find our own comforting food,” Yang said. “After the first cake I ever baked, I found out it was really interesting and I began to explore this area more and more.”
It is obvious baking is something Yang is passionate about. She is working to turn Vanilla Sweet House into a place she can call her own, one pastry at a time.
“We’re still trying and getting better and working on perfecting our menus,” Yang said. “But soon we’ll have a lot of updates here, like for the menus, for the cakes and for the drinks. We’re now designing our new menus. I want to create a place with variety, and it will be more fun here.”