Isella Rojas was born and raised in Lima, Peru as one of four children. Growing up two blocks from the ocean, she spent her summers on the beach with her siblings and four cousins. Describing her family as big, loving, and incredibly close-knit, both her parents emphasized the importance of hard work, education and family. Her father, in particular, taught and insisted his children constantly be looking to further their education.
Inspired by her mother’s tradition of creating elaborate, beautiful birthday cakes, a five-year-old Isella began experimenting in the kitchen first with baking cookies. “It was the beauty of the cakes that I was attracted to, but even more so it was seeing the joy on the person’s face,” she remarks. For Isella, that feeling of eliciting joy from the individual you’re serving was the ultimate satisfaction and the spark of her dream to become a pastry chef.
With the constant encouragement from her father to be savvy in business, as an important foundation, Isella completed a Masters in Business before going on to pursue her culinary training at San Ignacio de Loyola. Eventually her passion brought her to the United States to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her continued dedication to ongoing education is vital, “there is always more to learn, to stay fresh, inspired and not stale,”she says with a wink and her infectious, perpetual smile.
While visiting a relative in Maryland, Isella was introduced to Armine Aharonian of the Flaming Pit Restaurant who quickly saw the spark, passion and genuine kindness and scooped her up. Serving as the Pastry Chef for ten years Isella was like part of the family where she was given the freedom to experiment, refine and develop her unique style.
She later moved to Connecticut and worked in the pastry departments of l’escale Restaurant and Versailles in Greenwich CT. Isella then accepted the position as Pastry Chef at Artisan Restaurant, Tavern & Garden, the sister restaurant to l’escale. Describing her style as non-traditional, she enjoys mixing and layering flavors and aims for her presentation to have a certain architecture where its beauty and elevation match its flavors.
“Into every life a little sweetness must drop,” is her motto, evident in her savory and beautiful desserts and the love you taste in every bite.