With restaurants struggling while closed to in-house customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Burlington diners could use a bit of hopeful news on the eating-out front.
Shelley MacDonald is providing that hope. The baker who has lived, studied and worked in Paris for 11 years plans to open Belleville Bakery & Catering this fall.
She’s fully aware that COVID-19 has thrown a giant monkey wrench into any new business plans. “That’s OK,” MacDonald told the Burlington Free Press in an email exchange. “I’ll start anyway.”
The Instagram account for Belleville Bakery says, “coming this summer to Burlington, VT!” MacDonald acknowledges fall is more likely considering delays in immigration processing. She expects it could be late summer by the time she and her husband, Andre Beaulieu, arrive in the U.S.
Closer to Montreal
The couple lived in Montreal before deciding to move to Paris. They thought they would stay for a year, MacDonald said, but now 11 years later they plan to move back closer to Montreal.
MacDonald is getting her vote heard on where to live. “I’d like to be in Burlington, Vermont,” she said she told her husband. “It’s my favorite place ever. I want to have coffee on Church Street. I want to have a creemee and sit by the lake. And I can speak English there!”
Just where Belleville Bakery & Catering will locate is another matter; that will have to wait until they arrive in Vermont, according to MacDonald. She knows of two prime vacancies that opened up before the COVID-19 pandemic struck – Uncommon Grounds, the coffee shop that closed late last year after more than two decades on Church Street, and Mirabelles Bakery, which moved this year from Main Street to South Burlington.
MacDonald will also need to settle in to her new surroundings before opening Belleville Bakery.
“I know that I will want to actually live in BVT for a few months,” she wrote, “adjust all of my recipes so they can be made with American ingredients — the flour is really different in each country — and I’ll want to feed people, get feedback, and see what seems like the best location.” MacDonald said she will register to cook from home until she finishes developing her recipes and finalizes a location for the bakery.
Then, she wrote, “I’ll post on Instagram, ‘who wants to try these cream puffs’ and we’ll see who replies!”
Cheesecake and challah bread
MacDonald wrote that when the couple moved to Paris, she missed certain flavors and decided to learn to make bagels, pumpkin cheesecake and lemon bars. She began to sell her food, has hosted a private supper club and catered larger events including two weddings at the British Embassy in Paris. MacDonald wrote that she has studied at the Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris and is finishing work toward her French pastry certification.
Beaulieu, her husband, is an artist, and according to MacDonald they have hosted many combined events. Those include open-house events with Beaulieu’s paintings on the walls and MacDonald passing out mini-challah-bun sandwiches and slices of red velvet cake.
MacDonald hinted at what Burlington baked-goods fans can expect when Belleville Bakery does arrive — “cream puffs with mascarpone and thick Vermont cream, chocolate mousse cheesecake, and warm from the oven challah bread.”
Contact Brent Hallenbeck at (802) 660-1844 or email@example.com. Follow Brent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BrentHallenbeck.
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