Inside Houston: Ooh La La Dessert Boutique Owner Vanessa O'Donnell

Vanessa O'Donnell
Robyn Arouty

Inspired by Inside Atlanta, a series created by Atlanta Expert, Kate Parham Kordsmeier, we'd like to introduce Inside Houston. Each month, we'll be interviewing prominent Houstonians on their favorite things to eat, see and do in the Bayou City. 

This month, we're sitting down with Vanessa O'Donnell, owner of Ooh La La Dessert Boutique. Dubbed the 2012 Houston's Hottest Chef and praised by food critics and Yelpers alike, O'Donnell and her bakeries have earned a reputation for creating some of the best cupcakes in Houston. Ooh La La offers more than 80 different kinds of desserts, including the popular Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake — a mouth-watering chocolate cupcake, filled with chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkled with chocolate chunks.

 

I live in ... "a small town, west of Houston, named Sealy. I grew up in Sealy, so it feels like home. I like that it has the small town charm and the 100-year-old house we live in. The truth is, I like simple. I am not complicated, so to live in a small, simple town is everything." 

You can find me ... "at work. We own three small bakeries in the Katy/Houston area that employee 63 employees. The day and the task at hand will determine which location I will be at for the day. I try to rotate to each location at least once or twice a week. I work closely with our store managers and team leaders each day to ensure that the day-to-day responsibilities are being handled efficiently. And after work I spend that time with my husband and our yorkie."

I wish people knew ... "That there is more to see and do for first-timers than people are led to believe. There is a lot of culture and history in this town. One of my favorite things about Houston is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The rodeo is over 80 years old and has something for all ages and brings over two million a year from people all over the world. We all come from different backgrounds and areas of Houston, but the rodeo does a great job of bringing everyone together."

It's dinner time. I'm headed to ... "There are so many wonderful choices to choose from, but my favorite right now would be La Table. I love the food and the atmosphere. I love the heritage roasted chicken and the chocolate soufflé. We don't offer chocolate soufflés at Ooh La La so it's a treat to go somewhere and have someone make it for you."

Houston’s best kept secret is ... "Kuhl Linscombe, located in the Upper Kirby District. It's the best shopping! It has an array of housewares, furniture, gifts and apothecary. I bought a bright yellow chair swing about a year ago by Fermob that hangs on a 30-foot chain from a large tree in front of my house. It is absolutely one of my favorite things, and I love seeing it every morning and picturing my future kids swinging and having a good time with it."

When I'm playing tourist, I like to go to ... "The Houston Museum of Natural Science. I enjoy seeing the new exhibits as they come to town." 

When I want to unwind, I go to ... "the Trellis Spa at The Houstonian for a nice facial and massage."

My favorite place to get fresh air in the area is ... "around Memorial Park with our yorkie, Maddie"

My favorite weekend activities in the Houston metro area are ... "shopping, visiting the museum and watching the Texans play during football season."

I like to spend money at ... "Nordstrom at the Galleria and the Kuhl Linscombe." 

The thing I love most about Houston is ... "The citizens of Houston are very friendly and just great people! We had a mom and her two small children come in recently that I was helping. Once they got to the front of the line, the mom realized that she had forgotten her wallet. She turned to leave and the gentleman behind her motioned that he would pay for her desserts. She was very grateful and told him that she would pay it forward. I have seen this sort of thing many times, not just in my store, but around the city as well.

Houstonians are just really nice people!"