At Orson, Villavelazquez engineered meticulously layered desserts with ballsy juxtapositions that worked (think Nicoise olives in a chocolate ice cream sandwich). How's the pastry chef's style melding with Absinthe's altogether Frenchier, more conservative cuisine? Villavelazquez suggested he's engaged in a gradual remaking. Shipments of flavorings and spices he's ordered are only now arriving: Alsatian pinecone extract, white cheddar powder, violet extract ("lavender has played out," he told us; "violets are going to take its place.") He's already unveiled olive oil cake studded with (take a guess) Nicoise olives, with candied violets, lemon-rhubarb yogurt, and chartreuse. And he's developed a violet crème brulee, served with juniper and cassis sauces and (once they come into season) fresh blackberries.
So why did the 24-year-old rising star leave Orson? "I started at Citizen Cake almost five years ago," he told SFoodie, "and after three and a half years I was asked to open Orson. Being as young as I am, I have to see if I'm as good as people say." It's an attitude that may be ballsier than any flavor combination Villavelazquez could possibly come up with.