Not long after Bonnie Brasure opened her full-service bakery and cafe, Bleu Door Bakery, at 2411 Main St., in Vancouver, she received a mysterious package.
After some quick investigating, Brasure discovered the package was from her mother, who had sent her a plaque that simply read: “She believed she could, so she did.”
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Brasure said of owning and operating her own restaurant after first experimenting with culinary creations in her mom’s kitchen as a young girl. “You have to do that, (sometimes you just have to leap). It can be frightening to do your own thing.”
Brasure, who has been in business since October of 2011, was able to again take part in helping to prepare the annual Farm to Fort dinner at the Vancouver Artillery Barracks on Sept. 18. The dinner was presented by the Vancouver Farmers Market, Northwest Culinary Institute, Wine and Food Society of Clark County, Fort Vancouver National Trust and Vancouver Farmers Market Foundation.
Last year, Brasure and Bleu Door Bakery prepared the dessert for the dinner. This year, she said she wanted to do something different, so they prepared the appetizers for the evening. Appetizers included a beet tartare on cashew crème, smoked salmon, and a tomato, fig and red onion salad.
“Everything we made (for the appetizers) was either from the farmers market or we made it here (at the bakery),” Brasure said. “We have a customer with a fig tree, which was where we got the figs for the salad.”
Several other area businesses and culinary masters participated in preparing the five-course culinary experience that was the Farm to Fort dinner. Chefs from Nonavo Pizza were a part of the dinner, as were chefs from Willem’s On Main, The Grant House, the Northwest Culinary Institute and Blackbird Alchemy.
“I had so much fun doing it (the Farm to Fort dinner) last year, I just had to do it again this year,” Brasure said. “It was so much fun working with everyone.”
Brasure said she enjoys having Bleu Door Bakery partner with other businesses in the area to offer a variety of culinary experiences to community members. She often works with local wineries to offer regular wine tasting dinners at the bakery and, last November, Brasure collaborated with Trap Door Brewing to open 2 Doors Down Gourmet Grilled Cheese, a food cart offering a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, right outside Trap Door.
Brasure said the food cart collaboration between Trap Door and Bleu Door came about when Trap Door Brewing Owner Bryan Shull felt like there should be another food cart out next to the restaurant. Currently, a Thai food cart and a Mexican food cart have taken up a permanent residence right outside of Trap Door.
“Bryan dreamed of grilled cheese,” Brasure said. “He came to me and told me I would know how to do it, so we collaborated and opened 2 Doors Down.”
During Bleu Door Bakery’s early years, Brasure said they did a lot of wholesale business. For example, she said they supplied items to all of the Black Rock Coffee Bar stands in the area. However, Brasure said they have recently cut back a bit on wholesale business, as she wants to focus on doing more catering and expanding Bleu Door’s menu.
The start of Bleu Door Bakery
Brasure tells a story on the bakery’s website detailing how Bleu Door Bakery came to be. When Brasure was a little girl, her mother would take her grocery shopping so she could buy boxes of cake mixes with her allowance. Brasure loved adding things to the mixes to see what effect her additions had.
“Often times, the center of the cake bubbled up or the outer edges were over baked, but I always loved seeing the smiles it put on my parents’ face when they tried my latest creation,” Brasure wrote. “I can’t express in words how proud I am of this little bakery and how appreciative I am for all the support along the way. When my mother, Sally, comes to visit, she works alongside me making all kinds of fun desserts and now asks me, ‘can I lick the spoon?’ Our sourdough starter is named ‘Mustang Sally’ to remind me where it all began – with my mom, in the kitchen, with a box of yellow cake mix …”
Later in life, Brasure decided to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont in order to further her culinary career and, while she was there, she rediscovered her passion for baking and pastries. After graduation, Brasure was able to experience being a chef on private yachts in the Eastern U.S. and the Caribbean.
In 1993, Brasure ventured into the Portland restaurant scene, starting at Ron Paul Catering and Charcuterie. She wrote that she spent years working in all aspects of the restaurant world, including chef, manager and supplier. However, sweets remained her passion and in 2007 she created Brownies from Heaven, winning numerous awards for her creations.
In October of 2011, Brasure was presented with an opportunity to purchase the space on Main Street where Bleu Door Bakery eventually became a reality.
“I loved this space, and the lady who owned it wanted to sell it,” Brasure said.
She leaped at the chance to open her own small bakery, and Bleu Door was born. In 2015, Brasure took another “leap” and expanded the bakery to include a café with a larger and more diverse menu. The business also added the Express Window outside, which offers guests cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, soups, coffee beverages and other beverages.
Bleu Door Bakery is located at 2413 Main St., in Vancouver. To view the bakery’s hours and breakfast, brunch and lunch menus, visit www.bleudoorbakery.com or visit their Facebook page. The bakery can be reached (360) 693-2538.