Chicago bakery donates equipment to chefs with disabilities

A big donation by an award winning Chicago bakery is cooking up change for people with disabilities.  

When the pandemic hit, Vanille Patisserie had to close some of their locations. 

Instead of scrapping or selling their equipment, they donated it to a small bake shop on the North Side. 

"We had shut down two stores, through the pandemic, and we were sitting on all this custom equipment and I wanted it to go somewhere meaningful and have a good home and not just sell it and not just put it in storage.  It was just meant to be," said Vanille Patisserie president and owner Sophie Evanoff.  

Inside Dorothy’s Sweet Shoppe, sits all the donated equipment.  

There are coolers and clear glass display cases, worth $30,000.

"Because of that generous donation, we were able to pivot our funding and our resources to actually employ the people that we train," said Kathryn Levin, Executive Director of Gateway to Learning. 

The Gateway program runs the bakery and uses it as a training center for adults with intellectual disabilities.  

Behind the scenes, Gateway participants make and bake the sweet shop’s treats including chocolate, cookies and special peanut butter dog treats. 


The program allows the participants to learn new skills, with a goal of gaining employment and becoming independent.  

"People with disabilities tend to be underestimated and I think that when you give people opportunity they rise to the occasion," said Lavin.  

The donation allowed the program to pay some of the bake shop employees minimum wage.    

You can now pick up your Vanille cake orders from Dorothy’s Sweet Shoppe at 4925 N. Lincoln Avenue.