Vegan Divas: holding the secret to sweet vegan desserts and treats that are elegant—and delicious!
Vegan Divas owner Fernanda Capobianco Della Spiaggia and her husband, François Payard, could be considered the Mary Matalin and James Carville of the pastry world.
Capobianco, a vegan for 15 years, is the Brazilian-born founder of Vegan Divas, an innovative vegan bake shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Payard is a master of eggy, buttery, traditional French pastry, with award-winning restaurants around the world.
So how does the couple manage the challenge of what is the culinary equivalent of a liberal Democrat (Carville) married to a conservative Republican (Matalin)? “One side of the refrigerator is full of cheese and wine and the other is full of kale, avocados and almond milk,” says Capobianco. But here’s the bottom line: “There are never animals in our refrigerator!”
The couple met when Capobianco owned and managed the Payard Restaurant and Pastry shops in her native Rio de Janeiro, even though she couldn’t eat the food. It wasn’t easy to be vegan in a meat-eater’s paradise like Brazil, better known for churrasco and feijoada than tofu and tempeh, but Capobianco became vegan because, “I had many health issues, and I was always struggling with my weight.”
After she came to New York City, she founded Vegan Divas, a vegan, organic, kosher and parve line of delicious baked goods and desserts. She opened the shop—and ships her sweet treats all over the world—because, she says, “I always had a sweet tooth, even if I am a health freak!” Her user-friendly Vegan Divas cookbook came out last year, and features irresistible recipes using healthy, organic and exotic fresh ingredients, some with tropical roots like passion fruit, açai and cupuaçu.
At home, Capobianco and her husband somehow make their meals together work. “We are both creative and love to improvise, so sometimes great things can happen!”