Pastry playground for the palette

Lauren Ragone, the charter pastry chef at the eagerly-awaited Valentino’s in Bayside, has been baking since childhood and now her dreams – and those of local dessert-lovers – are about to come true.

“I’m very excited to be creating right here, where I’ve lived my whole life,” the 23-year-old Whitestone native exclaimed. “The neighborhood needs a place like this.”

Ragone is one of the youngest-ever graduates of the French Culinary Institute, earning a degree in Pastry Arts. Years before, at the age of three, she was creating cookies and cakes in her Easy-Bake oven and running her Fischer Price Kitchen. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to make new desserts and pastries.

Giorgio Kolaj, the driving force behind Valentino’s, recruited Ragone away from Hotel Plaza Athenee in Manhattan and set her up with any chef’s dream kitchen.

“Giorgio spared no expense – it’s like a playground for my imagination,” Ragone said. “Everything will be home-made, right down to the gelato and sorbets, all very seasonal and very market-friendly,” she explained.

“We’re capturing regional tastes from provinces all over Italy in our desserts,” Ragone promised, “plus we’re going to offer some of the traditional favorites – the classics – rendered in a truly authentic way.”

Kolaj and the other key players at Valentino’s on the Green have been sampling Ragone’s handiwork as she takes command of her sweet empire. “She’s creating the kind of desserts and pastries you could only find by exploring the Italian countryside – and we’re bringing them to Queens,” he said.

“This isn’t going to be boring,” Ragone pledged. “This is going to be fun, because after all, dessert is the best part of a meal.”