Friendly Italian neighbourhood eatery Dolci Café in Craighall Park comes with a serious pedigree. Owned and run by Chef Jackie Righi-Boyd and her husband actor Clayton Boyd as well as their partner Zoran Mijailovic, Righi-Boyd comes from a dynasty of restaurateurs and her mother – Chef Luciana Righi of Assaggi, Tre Nonni and Amarcord fame – is part of the team.
Here, Righi-Boyd chats about studying patisserie, the Dolci Cafe menu, and working with her mother:
Why did you decide to study patisserie?
I chose pastries because I like to create with my hands and it seemed like a logical choice given my upbringing. I did a pastry course here in Johannesburg and then worked in a pastry shop in Italy for four months. Like any industry you are never done learning – new techniques, methods and trends come out all the time so you constantly need to keep up to date. Perhaps in the past you had to attend a course to learn more, but now you have all the information you need thanks to YouTube and social media. It is easy to connect with experts in your profession across the world via social media.
Dolci Café originally focused on pastries and desserts but is now a full-blown Italian restaurant? Have you come to embrace the cooking side?
Dolci always cooked small meals, even in the beginning. We had a breakfast and lunch menu from the start, so even though I would have loved to focus only on pastries and speciality cakes, I had to embrace the cooking side from the beginning.
What are your favourite savoury and sweet dishes on the menu?
Savoury is tagliatelle ragu – a staple home comfort meal. I’ve moved away from enjoying sweets as much as I’m always tasting them as I bake.
What is it like working with your mother?
Surprisingly easy – she is my own personal master chef that I get to learn from every day. She imparts years of invaluable information that no book or course can teach you but that an expert can pass down to you. I consider myself very lucky to have this “legend of industry” as my mom and to have all that information at my fingertips. Many people would pay a lot of money to have an expert like her by their side.
How has she inspired and influenced you?
She is an extremally hard worker and is always on the front line. She is there every day doing it all herself and this has taught me that if you want to be successful you make your own success. You don’t hire people to work for you to make you successful, especially in this industry.
Your favourite kitchen tool?
A pastry bag. I have had a love hate relationship with this item. When I first started I could never use it properly and found it a very messy tool as often the filling would be everywhere but now that I’ve mastered how to use it, it is the perfect tool. It contains all your product and you can direct exactly where you want it. It took a bit of practice. I also like to use the pasta machine – I find making fresh pasta very relaxing.
What other chefs have inspired you?
Anna Olson, Peggy Porchen and Ina Garten. Olson because her TV show is an actual tutorial – she explains baking chemistry very well. Peggy Porchen because her cake and biscuit creations are beautiful and her work is perfect and Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) because she has creative twists on classic food.