Val’s Cheesecakes Finds A Permanent, Adorable Home On Maple Avenue.

Aside from being Maple Avenue’s newest tenant, there’s another identifying factor that makes Val’s Cheesecakes stand out: Its piercing blue paint job is hard to ignore.

The blue, however, was more than just a spur-of-the-moment color decision by co-owner Valery Jean-Bart. For him, it was a tribute to his late mother, for whom the space was built.

“She used to call it cyan,” Jean-Bart says. “That’s what I remember it by. That color was her color.”

Actually, Jean-Bart’s entire venture pays homage to his mother, from its color scheme to her affinity towards desserts — and, specifically, cheesecake.

Since 2012, he and co-owner Christopher Reece have been making a name for themselves at markets around town with their inventive dessert creations, previously made out of Reece’s church kitchen. And while you can find classic flavors like red velvet and cookies and cream among their selections, Val’s is perhaps best known for its eyebrow-raising concoctions, like the fabled brisket cheesecake.

So during the new brick-and-mortar shop’s grand-opening event, there was no shortage of sweets-lovers aching to sample some of Val’s wares. By the time we arrived, the brisket cheesecake jars were gone — as were many other options, really –but even what was left was well worth the trip. Savory items like the taco cheesecake offered a deconstructed alternative to cowboy crack salsa, where the boldness of the taco elements and cheddar meshed well with the sweetness of the cream cheese, all of which was to be chased with the Doritos-like bits that acted as the crust.

The bacon and cheese option, meanwhile, tasted similar to a loaded baked potato, minus the starchiness of the root vegetable. According to Jean-Bart, one of the most surprisingly popular items of the day was the orange blueberry white chocolate cheesecake. The citrus added a sour, but subtle contrast to the sweetness of the blueberry, while the white chocolate flavor stood out just enough to not overpower the natural flavors of the fruit. It was overall light and refreshing, making it an understandable choice for the muggy experience of eating outside.

While a business selling out of most items its first day is no minor feat, for Jean-Bart, it was the opportunity to pay proper homage to his mom that made the opening day experience the most rewarding. Says Jean-Bart: “The most exciting thing has been being able to put my mom into a living, breathing structure. This is all her.”

All photos by Kathy Tran.
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