Patrice Vassell was born in New York but raised on the island of Jamaica, and is one of four siblings, all of whom are twins. Growing up as a child in Montego Bay, her sister and she were always in the kitchen helping out their grandmother or stopping by the family owned bakery to get Jamaican baked goods. One of Patrice’s earliest memories is making chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother. That is still one of her favorite things to make today.
It wasn’t until Vassell’s third year in high school, that Patrice realized she wanted to go to culinary school. Patrice graduated in 2007 from The Door, which has a high school equivalency program participating in C-CAP. She was introduced to in-house dining services when she participated in C-CAP’s job shadow program at Flik International. She competed in the C-CAP Cooking Competition and was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Monroe College in New Rochelle and graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors in Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management. During her freshman year of college, C-CAP placed her in celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s kitchen at Country in Manhattan for her internship as a line cook. She also trained for 3 months in Italy for her Study Abroad Program in the cities of Parma, Otranto, and Ferrara.
Upon graduating from Monroe College, Patrice landed in top kitchens in New York. She began working at Marc Forgione, then at Telepan in 2010 as Chef Larissa Raphael’s pastry cook. She moved on to EMM Group’s Catch and The General, followed by The Breslin and in 2014 she returned to Telepan and continues to be mentored by Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael. Chef Raphael is known for her classic and inventive desserts and has worked alongside Chef Bill Telepan since the opening of the Michelin-starred Telepan in 2005 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Chef Vassell is working in all aspects of the pastry department, and supports Chef Raphael in the desserts she creates, to gracefully complement Telepan’s inspired and seasonal Greenmarket cooking philosophy.
When she’s not in the kitchen, Chef Vassell regularly volunteers for C-CAP events and attends alumni events. In 2015, she was awarded a Dessert Professional/Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) Alumni Scholarship for continuing education classes in pastry and baking.
In addition to her work at the restaurant, she has participated in Wellness in the Schools’ Café Days with Chef Telepan, introducing healthy dishes and new ingredients to K-8th graders. As the Executive Chef of WITS, Chef Telepan has spearheaded the organization’s goals by developing nutritious school menus, training cafeteria workers and teaching culinary and nutrition concepts to students, parents and teachers, in efforts to inspire healthy eating habits among school children.