Social worker-turned-baker finds sweet success with career change

Dayleen Coleman plates up a lemon tart at her newly opened D'Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier shop in Lake San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Marcos pastry shop owner trained at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London


Growing up in a single-parent household near Visalia, Dayleen Coleman couldn’t do much as a young girl to help her mom make ends meet. But she did love to cook, and by age 5, she was turning just about any ingredients she could find in the pantry into baked treats for her mom and sisters.

“It was my way of giving back,” she said.

When she grew up, she studied human development at Cal State San Marcos and became a social worker, specializing in serving the needs of at-risk children. She married, had two children and went back to CSUSM for three years to help the university build its masters in social work program.

Then an opportunity knocked that changed the course of her life and career, redirecting her back to her first love of baking.

On June 11, she opened D’Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier in the Shops at Lake San Marcos. The pastry shop sells her chocolates, cakes, tarts, cookies and crepes, offers cooking classes and serves as the commercial kitchen for her now-2-year-old wholesale business making pastries for restaurants, wedding cakes and private-label chocolates for wineries in North County and Temecula.

Coleman — who lives in San Marcos with her husband, Curtis, and their daughters Elizabeth, 13, and Sidney, 9 — said having a shop of her own where she can interact with the customers who love her baked goods has been rewarding.

“I always wanted to have a place where I could put my stamp on the things I made and say ‘this is who I am,’ ” she said.

A variety of fresh-baked fruit-flavored macarons for sale at newly opened D'Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier in Lake San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The opportunity to change gears with her career came five years ago, when the engineering firm that Curtis works for acquired a small company in England, and he was asked to move there for two years to help with the transition. In early 2014, they moved with their daughters to the village of Bishopstoke in Southern England. With the free time to follow her heart, Coleman enrolled in the patisserie program at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London.

The intensive 11-month course required nine hours of classroom and kitchen time a day, four days a week, not including the 80-minute train ride to and from Bishopstoke. It was hard on her and her family but it was worth it.

“It was amazing. I loved it, especially making chocolate,” she said. “A lot of people don’t like working with chocolate because it can be difficult, but when I work with it, it makes me feel happy and relaxed.”

After graduating, she went to work in the kitchen at Côte Brasserie in Winchester, England, then moved to Chocolate Craft in Alresford, England. There she developed her artistry in making chocolates and helped conduct chocolate-making workshops for groups as large as 300 all over England.

In August 2016, the Colemans moved back to San Marcos and she launched her wholesale business, D’Liteful Chocolat, which she ran out of a rented commercial kitchen, making private-brand chocolates for Forgotten Barrel, La Fleurs, Hungry Hawk, Sans V and many other wineries and tasting rooms. She also specialized in making wedding cake towers entirely composed of French macaron cookies.

When she began outgrowing her rented kitchen, she found the space in Lake San Marcos, which operates as both a retail shop and wholesale kitchen. She has been so busy since she opened last month, there are often customers waiting at the door when she arrives for work each day.

The shop sells chocolates and truffles, single-serving chilled fruit and dessert tarts, opera and black forest cakes, crème brûlées, macarons, made-to-order crepes and cookies and brownies. Prices range from $2 for chocolates, $2.25 for macarons, $3.25 for cookies, $5.95 for crepes and $6.95 for the single-serving desserts.

The shop also offers in-house, two-hour chocolate- and macaron-making workshops customized for children and adults, ranging from $45 to $60. Details are available on the company website.

D’Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier

Hours: 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Where: 1030 La Bonita Drive, Suite 200, San Marcos
Phone: (760) 653-3029

Lemon, chocolate hazelnut and fruit tarts, from left, as well as black forest cake inside the refrigerated case at D'Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier in Lake San Marcos.
Lemon, chocolate hazelnut and fruit tarts, from left, as well as black forest cake inside the refrigerated case at D’Liteful Chocolat Patisserie & Chocolatier in Lake San Marcos. The shop opened on June 11.
(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)