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A petite slice of France has emerged in Lincoln Park, where Toulouse native Dimitri Fayard and his Chicago-born wife Keli, also a pastry chef, have opened Vanille Patisserie. Dimitri, a runner-up at the 2008 National Pastry Championships, makes traditional French cakes, desserts and petit fours. Keli's passion is special occasion cakes and wedding cakes, including a traditional French dessert, croquembouche. The couple are former pastry chefs at New York's Payard (owned by famed chef Francois Payard) and moved to Chicago last year to start "every chef's dream," Keli said. "We always wanted to open a shop. This has been our goal for a long time." Dimitri's favorite creation is the Sophia: a hazelnut crisp base layered with flourless chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and vanilla cream. But the specialty here is obvious from the name: Vanille (vah-NEE) means "vanilla" in French. "We decided to call the shop Vanille Patisserie because vanilla is one of our primary ingredients," Dimitri said. "We make a vanilla poundcake, a vanilla tart with strawberry coulis and sell concentrated Tahitian vanilla extract to which we add vanilla beans by hand."