Anyone who has tasted a Dessie’s Table cookie is aware of the perfect balance of sweetness and savory satisfaction found within the sugar and flour combinations. This is no accident. It is the flavor profile that occurs when meticulously constructed recipes meet pure passion.
With 30 years of pastry experience in the casino industry, in 2020 Chef Raul chose to shift from corporate life to focus on opportunities in the bakery with OV. Attracted by the OV mission to employ and serve people with disabilities, he continues to find joy in a career that puts people first. Among the everyday joys in the bakery that he experiences are working hands on with people OV serves to answer questions and share his love for baking.
“When you are working for something that others can benefit from, it makes a big difference,” says Chef Raul. “I like that I’m actually providing help and doing something for the better. It was something different than my previous experience. This is about trying to help people, and I think it’s the most rewarding thing I can work toward in a profession, and working here has changed my life.”
His passion with baking and with OV has served him and the bakery well as he has helped Dessie’s Table win bronze for the Best of Las Vegas awards’ best cookie bakery in the city.
From his high school fascination with buttercream roses to reading every pastry book he could get his hands on and taking every class available, Chef Raul has been gracing the city of Las Vegas with his sweet creations since the early 1990s, enjoying the delighted looks on people’s faces after trying one of his creations.
With years of professional accolades in the world of pastries and desserts, in summer of 2023 as the Dessie’s Table bakery manager and chef, Raul Villa did it again. Chef Raul gained recognition for his sugary confections and was named pastry chef of the year by the American Culinary Federation of Las Vegas.
“I’d received smaller awards here and there over the years but nothing this big. It’s a big deal and this award meant a lot,” says Chef Raul. “It shows that those little things you do over the course of your career actually mean something.”
When he’s not donning the traditional Dessie’s Table chef jacket or overseeing flour and sugar ratios, the chef’s hands can be found on the throttle of a dirt bike, his three kids at his side and riding the jumps around APEX or the super cross tracks at Sandy Valley.
Participating in motocross racing since the age of 15, Chef Raul has enjoyed getting his kids into motocross and teaching them how to ride bikes. Though he doesn’t race anymore, once or twice a month, he returns to the tracks for a thrill ride with the family.
“When you’re younger there’s no fear. Now there’s a lot of fear, it hurts a lot more now and you don’t recover as quick as you do when you’re younger, but still there’s no denying the bigger the jump the better it feels,” Chef Raul says.
Get to Know Chef Raul:
Q: What is your favorite type of food?
A: That’s a good question…I think the two I eat the most is Italian or Mexican.
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
Q: What is a talent you have that not many people know about you?
A: Art. I used to freehand draw and won first place two years in a row in high school and won third place out of all the schools in San Joaquin Valley. I still draw, but not as much as I used to.
Q: Do you follow any sports teams, if so which ones?
A: Motocross, I’ll follow anything about motocross I can tell you anything about who’s racing, who’s winning, stats, you name it. I’ll watch football but it’s very rare, basically just the Super Bowl.
Q: What movie genre interests you the most?
A: Science fiction.
Q: What’s your favorite type of music?
A: 80’s music.
Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?
A: My family.
Q: If you could pick one superpower what would it be?
A: Fly, I guess. When I was younger, I used to climb onto the top of the roof with cardboard on my arms and jump off trying to fly. I fell flat on my face, but I tried it.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
A: Italy and Spain.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
A: Christmas and seeing how excited the kids get with decorating the house, enjoying presents and getting the whole family together at my mom’s house.
…the most important question for this bakery manager and chef that everyone wants to know…
Q: What is your favorite flavor cookie?
A: Chocolate chunk, followed by sugar.