MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Diane Yang may be small in stature, but she’s a big force in La Belle Vie’s kitchen.

“This is my corner of the kitchen. It’s nice because we have the window,” Yang said. “We’re the only place in the kitchen that has a window, so it keeps us sane.”

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As executive pastry chef of the top restaurant in the Twin Cities, Yang and her team are setting the standard for desserts.

She grew up on a farm near Stevens Point, Wis., where she never imagined she’d be working in a four-star restaurant.

“My mom worked two jobs, and she’s never home. And my dad was like, ‘OK, you’re the girl, you need to learn how to cook and clean,'” she said.

Now she’s creating impressive, flavorful works of art.

“I didn’t know anything about the culinary world. But I was just like, ‘I don’t know. I want to work with the best people in town.’ And the teacher was like, ‘Well, you should go work at La Belle Vie, you should do your internship there,'” Yang said. “I was like, ‘La Belle What?'”

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This winter, she taught a cooking-design course at the University of Minnesota.

“When I brainstorm stuff, you know, like ‘How can I make a lemon tart?’ she said. “I think of the old-school, traditional dessert. ‘How can I make lemon tart into a plated dessert?'”

Yang’s desserts are so great at La Belle Vie that she now consults for Icehouse and Haute Dish. And her delicious journey is just getting started.

“I think when you work with the best, you learn a lot,” she said.

Yang is one of the chefs taking part in Share Our Strength’s Minneapolis Cakewalk on Thursday night, a fundraiser which aims to make sure kids don’t go hungry.

The event will be held at Aria on First Street. The donation is $65 dollars, and you get desserts from a dozen chefs – and the chance to win a cake.

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If you use the code SWEET10 through Sunday, it’s good for 10-percent off, bringing down the cost to $58.50.

Jason DeRusha