After spending just a few minutes in The Bleeding Heart Bakery, your senses begin to take over.
The sumptuous scrumptiousness is not what overwhelms. The creative artistry is astounding! Punk rock cupcakes? Skull and bones treats that taste good are in abundance!
I am an addicted fool and am so glad to have caught up with Michelle Garcia, who with Vinny Garcia, runs Bleeding Heart.
1955 W. Belmont Ave.
Bleeding Heart Oak Park
1010 North Boulevard
Oak Park, IL
How did baking become a part of your life?
At a very young age I found my self homeless and addicted to drugs. I got placed in a program where kitchen duty was a punishment. I got in trouble alot, and learned so much. Eventually I got in trouble on purpose because the kitchen became my safe place. It has stayed that way ever since and is the same 16 years later.
Many people love to bake, myself included, but only a few of us can make folks eyes roll back into their heads. Give us an insight as to how your art became sustainable AND scrumptious?
I have always been...different...it took alot for people to take me seriously. I felt as though I always had to work twice as hard and bake twice as fast and make product that rocked twice as hard as everyone around me in order to be taken seriously. I set my life to be very regimented and I am an incredibly determined person. I was raised believing in sustainable living practices and once I opened a business, those practices became the same for my business. I would never do something, or make a product that I wouuld not allow in my own home.
I am a vegan. I have previously caved when trying to satisfy my sweet tooth. What compelled you to provide vegan fare?
I was vegan for 9 years. I know there are alot of people who have an issue with me no longer being vegan. The fact is, I have health issues that caused me to have to change my diet. I had absolutley no choice and have now, never been healthier. However, when I was vegan, I spent alot of time wishing everything I ate did not consist of cardboard and granola. When I opened the bakery I decided to go about vegan recipes differently. I wrote the very best conventional recipes I could and made them vegan. I was sick of people thinking that just because someone is vegan means that they have no tastebuds.
Tell us about your farmers? What does organic mean for you and for your clients?
Throughout the years we have worked with ALOT of people. It is constantly changing because farms production fluctuates as does different product availability. The farm I love the very most would be Growing Power. They really are the whole package. They educate themselves and the consumer, their urban farming is an amazing educational tool - bringing vegetables to urban food deserts and their products are exceptional. I find myself creating my menu based off their availability and that is so inspirational.
Also, I truly love Organic Valley. I understand they are HUGE now, but I have been with them from the very beginning. Their products are exceptional. The scones we make with their soymilk are by far the best and the fat to water ratio in their butter is spot on. They also really, truly, care about who their consumer is.
Who is on the Bleeding Heart team?
Michelle and Vinny: co-owners and partners in life and crime:)
Aaron and Ryan: Store managers
Crystal: Office Manager and Manger of Special Orders
Margie: Accounts Payable and Receivable
Korine and Alisha: Cake Decorators
William: Production Manager in Training
Tracy: Cupcake and Dessert Production
Dan: Breakfast Pastry production manager
Luca: Cake Ball and Dessert Production
Marcos: Delivery and Dishes
(at the time this posted, I understand a new team was in training transition so, this list may or may not reflect the current Bleeding Heart team)
Be sure to enjoy!!!