It all started at a very young age, I was about 3 years old when I asked my Mom if I could make something in the kitchen. I can still remember my excitement when she said yes!! Not only was she letting me “cook” but, she was allowing me to cook whatever I wanted! I don’t recall all of the ingredients, I just know that my creation included tomatoes, oranges, raisins and vinegar. I also remember that I didn’t have to taste it but, being the good Mom that she is… she tasted it and I beleive she told me it was great!
Then it came at the age of 6, early Christmas morning. I unwapped my best gift and best toy ever…my avocado green Easy Bake Oven. That morning, the light bulb was screwed in place and I was ready to bake. My first creation was a strawberry cake from a mix that was included in the box that I baked for my Aunt Kay, whom I’d be seeing at my Grandparent’s house later that day. After my packaged mixes ran out, that was it for them. All of my creations were things I made on my own. I made cookies, pies, pizzas, whatever I could think of. My Mom baked often too and rather than licking the bowl and beaters, I would scrape batters into my mini pans. My Dad was proud to call himself the taste tester or, guinea pig.
I’ve always wanted a career in confectionary arts and although it wasn’t my parents idea of a dream job, they supported me 150%. My very first job out of school was at a baked goods manufacturing facility. The add read “cake decorators wanted…no experience necessary”! I was in my glory!! We made birthday cakes for McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Chuck E Cheese. Cookies for The Bay, the Metro Zoo and even Disney. Their was even a wedding cake division…wow, did I ever want to learn how to make those!! My first job was to pipe stiff royal icing “clown hair” on sugar decorations and because it was a factory, I did this 8 hours a day for 3 days straight. Let me tell you, my hand was so sore it almost brought me to tears. That didn’t deter me one bit, because I loved it and I actually did a good job. This factory was owned by one of the best, her name was Jeanette. She was tough, and an artistic genius. It’s been 24 years that I’ve been in this industry and some of the best techniques I’ve learned to this day were taught by her, so many years ago.
Here’s how supportive my parents were, at the age of 19 I decided that I wanted to have my own cake shop. My brother Mike and I were searching for just the right location when I heard that the original McCall’s Cake Shop was for sale…well, I HAD to have it. It came with a well known name, equipment and all the customers I could dream of!! Mom and Dad were there to help me get it without hesitation, because they believed in their kids and why shouldn’t they?? They did a good job in raising us, they instilled good values and a good work ethic. Wow, what a learning curve…talk about jumping in with both feet. The next ten years were busy…we all ran the shop, I got married, studied interior design and had two kids. By the time I was 25, I felt 40…hard work but I learned so much.
From there, I moved on and worked in Sales for Wilton Industries, talk about being outside of my comfort zone!! It worked out well though, I was selling things I knew everything about. My sales career continued after Wilton and I began selling for one of the world’s largest food companies (in the bakery division of course). Not only did I sell but was able secure a position that involved working in the test kitchen…what a perfect role. I was out on the road again, selling what I knew and was able to test products and help solve issues in the test kitchen, which was very gratifying.
Throughout my 24 years in this profession, through all of my transitions…I’ve continued to make custom cakes for a vast number of clients. I’ve made cakes for movies, bill boards, ads and television shows. In 2010 I decided to get involved in the cake community by becoming a member of ICES, C.S.S.A, and the C.C.D.G. I also started competing in competitions and have won:
- 1st place, masters division – Winter Wonderland Wedding Cakes, New York Cake Convention
- 2nd place, masters division – Figurines, New York Cake Convention
- 3rd place, masters division – Cakes vs. Cupcakes, New York Cake Convention
- 1st place, masters division – Wedding Cakes, C.S.S.A. Cake Competition
- 2nd place, masters division – Wedding Cakes, Canadian National Wedding Cake Competition
- 1st place Cake Walk – Wedding Cake Edition, season 1 – episode 4
I love what I do and I hope you join me on my journey!!