Meet Vanessa

Vanessa Cantave, chef and lifestyle entertaining expert delights her clients and “foodie” fans through her passion and expertise in all things food! 

Vanessa is the Executive Chef and Principal in her own catering company, Yum Yum NYC, which offers private chef and catering services. Founded in 2005, Yum Yum provides full service catering services for both high profile private and corporate clients, including Kiehl’s, Nike, Intel and Target Corp. By 2009, the company was grossing over $2 million in sales annually and even launched a casual option for corporate clients called Yum Yum 2 Go. Yum Yum has served celebrities such as M.I.A, Interpol, Spike Lee, and Mark Ronson. From over 3500 guests at the Creator’s Project NYC Launch to a private Christmas Eve dinner for Grammy Award winning artists Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, Vanessa’s menus remain consistently refined, yet unfussy. 

“Her food boasts high-end flavor, but in a way you’d feel comfortable eating every day.” – Uptown Magazine 

Most recently, in July 2011 Vanessa competed and won $20,000 on Bravo’s new cooking competition show “Rocco’s Dinner Party” with celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito. She is a regular contributor for several media outlets including Black Enterprise, NY Post and CW11/PIX and has been featured in Teen Vogue, Daily Candy and on Fox Business News. 

Vanessa supports the C-CAP charity organization which works with underserved students in inner city high schools who are seeking culinary careers. She is also working on a cookbook and planning to her own restaurant concept to open by 2013. 

Vanessa graduated as valedictorian from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. She completed her undergraduate studies at James Madison University and has a B.A. in political science, with a minor in French. She’s held various management positions in finance, marketing and advertising at the FDIC, Federal Reserve Bank, Deutsche Bank and Ogilvy & Mather, respectively with clients including BMW, North America, IBM Global Services and AT&T Wireless.

Spiced Winter Pear and Meyer Lemon Martini (Serves 12)


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 750-ml bottle Remy V
  • 5 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons pear nectar
  • Freshly-grated nutmeg, for serving 


  1. In a pan, warm sugar, water and cinnamon stick pieces over low heat until the sugar dissolves and a syrup forms. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture; discard cinnamon. 
  2. In a pitcher, combine the cinnamon syrup with the Remy V, lemon juice and pear nectar. Refrigerate for about 3 hours.
  3. Add 12 ice cubes to the drink and stir with a wooden spoon. Pour the cocktail through a fine-mesh strainer. Dust each drink with nutmeg.

The Pink Lady (Serves 4-6)


  • 2 cups guava nectar (nectars are thicker than juices and great for mixing cocktails)
  • 1 cup of Remy V
  • 1 bottle champagne or sparkling white winefresh raspberries for garnish, optional


  1. Combine the guava nectar and Remy V
  2. Fill a champagne flute halfway with the guava mixture and top with champagne.
  3. Garnish with a fresh raspberry

Would you leave Wall Street to start a business? 

Yum Yum Chef’s Owner Vanessa Cantave sits down with Fox Business News to discuss what drove her to leave Wall Street to start a small business.