I opened Sweet Elena's in 1992 in Sand City. Prior to opening Sweet Elena's, I worked at Ventana in Big Sur as a pastry chef for fourteen years. Mentored by Chef Albert Kumin of the International Pastry Art Center and Cornelius Van Peski of Carmel, my love for culinary arts grew.
Born and raised in North Africa and France, with an Italian Mediterranean background, food was always an important part of our lives. My father was a winemaker and ran a vineyard in Tunisia and later in France. My mother was a "gourmande" and bought our food daily at the local farmer's market. We had big family reunions and spent a lot of time cooking such foods as grillades (grilled meats and vegetables), couscous (a North African dish), homemade pasta and ravioli.
Sweet Elena's is an artisan bakery, where everything is made from scratch, reminiscent of home country cooking, using fresh and local ingredients.
The farmer's market with its seasonal variety of products has been a great source of inspiration for my cooking: Fruit pies and tarts (Meyer lemon, cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot); vegetable, chicken & chard, spinach & mushroom galettes; quiches. Our delicious granola, made with Amen Bee honey, crisp biscotti with anise, and our star cookie filled with raspberry jam have a big following.
When Sand City initiated the local arts festival, Sweet Elena's started a tradition of showcasing local artists. A cozy gathering place, great art, and delicious food.