The Rancho Santa Fe Food Company is opening this week in Cielo Village, a place to grab breakfast or lunch and a bakery where you can find freshly baked loaves of bread and decadent pastries, cakes, cakes tarts and bars—many of which are gluten-free.
“The pretzel croissants are to die for,” promises Andrew Dover, executive pastry chef and co-owner with Rancho Santa Fe resident Delorine Jackson.
Members of The Bridges may recognize the delicious, flaky croissants with just the right amount of salt—that’s where Dover has worked as executive pastry chef for the last six years.
The restaurant will officially open its doors Friday, Oct. 28 with 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. hours. A grand opening will be held from 4-7:30 p.m. with passed samples of menu items like RSF French dip sliders and mouthwatering desserts.
“Everyone around has been so supportive, this is a really great neighborhood to be in,” Dover said. “Everyone’s really come together to make this happen and I feel very fortunate to be a part owner of this.”
While being a pastry chef has been Dover’s main focus for years, he is enjoying using his culinary training and experience to help craft the full menu. He has brought on Chef Thomas Rowan from Pamplemousse and hopes the “master saucier” will bring his own style and flavors to it as well.
“I made a menu that I would eat myself and food I would make to impress my friends,” Dover said.
Many options are gluten-free, sugar-free or vegan as Dover wants to make sure he caters to everyone.
For breakfast, RSF Food Co. will serve up sandwiches such as the egg white with spinach and vine ripe tomato on gluten-free toast and The RSF Original Breakfast Burrito with farm fresh eggs, cheddar and jack cheese, bacon, potatoes, sour cream and house-made salsa.
The menu also includes omelets, benedicts, buttermilk pancakes, oatmeal and smoothies.
For lunch they will serve up artisan salads, soups, sandwiches and burgers on fresh-baked breads and pizza, all using high-end, locally-sourced ingredients
“The French dip is one that really stands out the most. I didn’t cut any corners,” Dover said of the sandwich with prime rib shaved super thin on a toasted, very light house-made white-wheat bread paired with a demi-glace made from scratch that takes two-days to perfect. “The demi-glace is so good with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions…it’s so good you want to lick your plate.”
The goodies and desserts are where Dover really gets to show off—beautifully and artistically decorated cakes, gluten free Viennese praline cake with glossy dark chocolate, duo chocolate towers with cones of swirled, colored chocolate, miniature lemon tarts, coconut macaroons and bars stuffed with house made jam. His Sweet Chloe Ann high-end, gluten-free pastry line is named for his daughter and includes treats like caramel shortbread cookies that are dipped in chocolate and topped with gold flakes.
RSF Food Co. looks forward to providing catering for events and eventually Dover would like to add a light dinner menu as well.
Dover’s father was a geneticist and he was raised in his lab, playing with centrifuges, test tubes and petri-dishes. He was always interested in science but his dad also taught him how to cook.
“I loved cooking, and baking even more so because of the science behind it, the precision and patience that it takes and the reward is just amazing,” Dover said, who spent high school years playing around in the kitchen and baking his own bread.
At 19, he left St. Louis for Chicago, where he received a science and culinary arts degree from the Chicago Cooking and Hospitality Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts).
He went to work at Coco Pazzo in Chicago, a high-end North Italian restaurant, training under then- executive chef Cristiano Bassani, a classically trained chef from North Italy, who shared with Dover his great-grandparents’ cookbook, which was like a bible. Bassani, now owner of Big Chef Burgers in Chicago, has frequently golfed at The Bridges and Dover can’t wait to serve him a meal in his new place when he comes to town.
At Coco Pazzo, Dover developed his passion for pastry, learning under a classically-trained French pastry chef.
Dover went on to work at Ritz-Carltons before returning to Missouri to work for
Dover came out to California to open a restaurant in North Hollywood but found San Diego more his speed, landing as the pastry chef at Rancho Valencia, where he worked for six years.
Dover loved his time at The Bridges but is very excited to be going on this new adventure of having his own restaurant.
“I’m science-minded and curious, I love food, I love pastry, I love to experiment and play. That’s why I have such a passion for it. My eyes and ears are always open, learning. I love to pick up new ideas and tricks of the trade,” Dover said.
Dover has been experimenting with gluten-free and sugar-free pastries for a long time—his dad encouraged him when he was younger to try to make things without flour or main ingredients.
“I’ve worked on it over the years, little by little, developing my own all-purpose mix,” Dover said, noting he has a journal filled with notes and adjustments, a nod to his roots in his father’s lab.
There were many members who were gluten-free at The Bridges and Dover got even more resolve to perfect his craft after his wife Jamie was told she had a wheat allergy a year ago.
Jamie, he adds, is “the most amazing wife in the world” and has been helping with all of the little details of building a restaurant from scratch.
Dover is passing along a love of cooking and baking to his two children Chloe, 7 and Ian, 3—they each have their own chef’s jackets and as she is older, Chloe is learning the names of all the best chocolates and desserts.
“That’s my other job, being a dad,” Dover says. “I had a dream, picturing my daughter in the bakery doing her homework while I rolled out dough. It’s actually come true.”
RSF Food Co. is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 18021 Calle Ambiente. Learn more at rsffoodco.com.