Pastry Chef Dana Bellefeuille is owner and operator of The Village Bakery, located in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Over the the last 18 years Dana grew her reputation working in kitchens with chefs many know from The Food Network. She has established a name for herself across the region, even making cakes for the Space Needle in Seattle.
But Dana has always wanted to combine two loves. That is, baking and supporting those with disabilities and special needs. For the past three years, Dana’s kitchen at home doubles as a loving space where people with challenges can make their dreams come true, and a venue for baking her amazing delicacies. She is in the process of furthering her mission. She is on a quest to find space for a storefront in North Idaho. She plans to operate her new bakery and continue to support people with disabilities and special needs.
Her inspiration began with her own children. Dana has a son on the autism spectrum and a daughter with a physical disability.,
“My goal and vision has always been to have a place where people of all abilities can come and gain life skills, feel accepted, valued and recognized for their own special skills,” says Dana. “I want them to connect with each other and hopefully learn skills to help them gain employment. I only want for others what I would want for my own children. My secret wish would be for everyone to see beyond stereotypes. Everyone has special talents. Everyone deserves a chance.”
All of her bakers-in-training are for now volunteers building their skillsets. She plans to make them employees once her storefront is open. These skillsets on the learning curve cover a wide range, not only baking, but communication, money management and many other life skills. All funds generated by The Village Bakery have gone back into the business or are donated to charity such as the most recent, to the Panhandle Autism Society (PAS). Dana and her helpers made Cocoa Bombs which raised $10,000 for PAS, a non-profit organization which supports individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
“I want to mentor and help my workers to fulfil dreams, become proficient and expand their horizons,” says Dana. “We’ve had teams of five, six people at a time donating their time and effort to come in and join me, side by side. “I tailor to each person’s ability. Their can-do attitude is amazing. I love every minute of it.”
Cocoa bombs have literally exploded. It’s a new trend that is sweeping the nation.
“When a cupcake fundraiser didn’t go so well, I said ‘Aha’! This is what I need to do for the fundraiser for PAS. They were certainly a hit,” says Dana.
Cocoa bombs are hollow chocolate balls filled with cocoa powder and marshmallows and other goodies. When one half is filled, a little melting chocolate seals together the sweet goodies inside. The outside can then be decorated in countless ways.
The cocoa bombs are then to be placed in a mug and hot water or milk poured over them. This causes the ball to burst in the cup with the sweet treats from the inside then revealed.
The sweetness doesn’t end with the cocoa bombs. Dana’s creations range from cupcakes to specialty and theme cakes. Please look within the website for her amazing culinary designs and also on facebook.