MY — July 2011
Change Language:
La Dolce Vita Dawn Bause
Elaine Perlin Crossley

Culinary virtuoso Dawn Bause chooses to live the sweet life.

Life is just a bowl of cherries! Well, maybe not every single second, but in the mind of Dawn Bause, it’s best to reach for the gusto whenever possible. The pretty blonde with a winsome smile has enjoyed a range of vocations, from aesthetician to culinary expert and author. And, if that’s not enough, she’s a world traveler, avid bird watcher and yoga devotee.

In 1991 the multi-faceted bon vivant married Fred Bause, president of Premier Steel, who brought four kids into the fold, and today, the couple enjoys nine grandchildren.


Dawn seamlessly blends focus and calm with vivacity and optimism. She notes, “I learned many years ago that seeing the glass ‘half full’ truly makes for a beautiful life. I have heard it said that more important than the family we were born into, the money we earn or even our education is to have a positive attitude and to enjoy the little things that make each day special. I believe the journey is as important as the destination.”

Deeming herself a “home cook,” she currently owns two companies, Cooking with Dawn, and Cooking with Dawn Tours, LLC. She hosts hands-on cooking parties, teaches culinary classes and conducts team-building events. And, when her students really “eat up” the joys of cooking, she and Fred lead them to Italy to bask in the country’s romantic sights, aromas and flavors. She says, “Italy is the ultimate culinary adventure, where life’s pleasures center around the table.”

Birmingham residents Rick and Penny Persiani have taken two adventurous Italian tours with Dawn and Fred. Penny enthuses, “The food was exquisite, the camaraderie beyond belief, and the side trips were most enjoyable – all due to Dawn’s careful planning, personable nature and extensive knowledge of the regional foods and customs. Both she and Fred were the perfect planners and hosts.”

If traveling and running her own business weren’t enough, Dawn also teaches monthly skin care workshops for Clinage Skin Rejuvenation Systems in Southfield. She has been using their products for 15 years and is passionate about the company. “Until I started using Clinage, my skin was always blotchy and looked dull and lifeless. Now, people often ask what I use on my skin and almost never guess that I am 60 years old. I not only love the products, I cannot live without them.”


Dawn was raised in Commerce Township, and, by happenstance, she and Fred now reside adjacent to her childhood home. The oldest of seven, she was raised by her late parents Alice Anne and John Sassak.

She first experienced the vibrant culinary and cultural landscape of Europe as a high school exchange student in Sweden. Then, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, she studied political science. She also spent time in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany with her dad, who worked in the electronics industry.


“My parents ultimately divorced,” explains Dawn, “so I think I was commitment-shy until I met Fred at the Franklin Racquet Club.” She was once the assistant to the late tennis great Pancho Gonzales, so she felt confident in offering the gent a few tips. The two made “beautiful volleys” together, then married in 1991 in Venice, Italy.

She quips, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I’m convinced I got Fred to marry me by cooking Italian meals for him!” Later, Dawn was inspired to publish the delightful book, “Romance Begins in the Kitchen – Romantic Italian Recipes and their Complementary Wines.” Her co-authors were renowned Michigan chef Modesta DeVita and acclaimed sommelier Nidal Daher.


Dawn is adamant about using fresh, authentic ingredients, savoring meals and making dining a family event. She says, “I think the ‘death of the family dinner hour’ has broken up family togetherness, caused dips in school performance and led to compromised nutrition. I want to get across that making healthy, tasty food from scratch can be quick and simple.” She suggests, for example, that freshly chopped tomatoes, seasoned and sautéed in olive oil, make up a sauce bursting with flavor.

On savoring a meal, Dawn suggests, “We should first eat with our eyes to relish all the colorful food combinations, then with our noses to smell the wonderful aromas that make our mouths water, then slowly chew many times to work up the enzymes needed for good digestion.” And, on occasion, even Dawn succumbs to the temptation of a divine homemade cannoli for dessert.

Left: Photo by Boswell
Styled by Illysia Neumann-Loreck
Hair by Luigi Bruni of Luigi Bruni Salon
Makeup by Amber Kaczmarek of Luigi Bruni Salon
INC Tribal Collection shirt in green, $69.50. Courtesy of Macy’s
Vintage porch glider in original 1950s aqua and white
Courtesy of Jameson Hard Goods.