Cake Decorator and Pastry Chef
Hansel & Gretel Bakery and Shoshawna’s Cakes & Pastries
Sector: Skilled Trades
Type: Career Profile
Business & Economics, Food & Nutrition, Family Studies, Home Economics, Science
One of the things that gets me most motivated at work is knowing that each day I get to learn something new. When I first began working at Hansel and Gretel, I wasn’t comfortable with using fondant. This was because I had only used it a handful of times prior to that. Now, I use it on a regular basis with confidence! Now that I’ve become more comfortable with fondant, I’m learning how to airbrush my cakes. This opens up a completely new avenue of creativity and cake decorating!
Between learning something new each day, being creative and having a fun team to work with, there is very little that I don’t enjoy about my job! I feel that this career is the right fit for me because I love being able to see the joy on people’s faces when they receive a product that I’ve put my heart and soul into. I also love that this job allows me to be creative. Most days it doesn’t even feel like a job, it feels like a fun hobby that pays! Even some days, after a long day of work, I come home to fill some of my personal cake orders and although it can be exhausting, the end results are always so rewarding!
For the first few years of high school, I had dreamt of being a teacher. Then, one day I woke up and that dream wasn’t as strong as it always had been. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do anymore. What I did know was that I had a passion for creativity and working with my hands. One day, a teacher told me about the Baking and Pastry Apprenticeship Program at Vancouver Community College.
After a trial day, I applied to the program and was accepted. While I enjoyed the program and had a great time, I still was slightly unsure if this was the path for me. Since then, I’ve been working at various bakeries or from home. However, up until recently I have definitely had some twists, turns and been a little unsure of my career path. During those times, I would try something new, go somewhere with a slower paced environment in order to allow myself time to come back down to earth. My last one of these experiences, I actually ended up becoming a manager. That was more than I had ever expected out of that job! I learned a lot and it was a great experience. This is when I truly learned that this is the career for me. I didn’t learn these things on my own, though. I have been so grateful to have my husband, Tyler, alongside me through the whole journey. He has been my rock, pushed me to try new things, to branch out and to help me understand why I truly belong in a bakery.
If you are interested in a culinary arts career, or any career in the trades, give it a shot! Don’t give up right away. Get through some hard days/nights, get frustrated, let it take you on the roller coaster that it is. See why you may think it’s not for you, because this will show you if it truly is. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If this means taking a break and going back to it later, then so be it! Nothing comes easy in life. Learning is always going to be hard, but the important thing is to see why it’s worth all of the hardships. Is it rewarding? How does a productive day make you feel? Are you happy more times often than not? Does it actually feel like work or doing what you love every day? That is what makes it all worthwhile.
As ridiculous as this may sound, one of the things that I do for fun is baking. If I am baking for fun, though, I tend to bake bread. This is something I don’t do regularly or at work. It’s almost therapeutic for me. I also enjoy reading and/or writing to wind down after a long day of work. I also volunteer as the BC Alumni Representative for Skills Canada and sometimes have some projects to do on that front. Another thing that I love to do during my spare time is take walks with our dog, Sophie. She’s almost 16 years old but that’s not stopping her! Some days she’s even quicker than I am!
I work at a bakeshop called Hansel and Gretel. Here my main duties are decorating baked goods and opening the shop in the morning. My day begins by setting up the front display with such goodies as cookies, muffins, cupcakes, loaves and much more! During this time, I also make sure to brew up a fresh pot of coffee for my coworkers, our customers and myself. This is a very vital part of my day! This also includes an additional morning bake off and doing final touches on the day’s cake orders. I also run my own home-based bakeshop. At Shoshawna’s Cakes & Pastries I do all of the baking and decorating as well as any paperwork that may be needed.
On a regular workday, I tend to use both math and science to make sure that my products are consistent and come out the same each time. This helps me to solve problems and make important decisions about adjusting the size of a recipe for accurate product amounts, and changing the temperature or resting time according to the temperature of the bakery. One very important moment where math is essential in my place of work is when the consistency of a dough, batter or icing seems to be out of sorts. In this particular scenario, I’d calculate the total weight of my recipe and weigh out the amount that my product has given me. From here, I can subtract the product amount from the recipe amount and use the process of elimination to find out which ingredient I may have missed or miscalculated. For this task, my bakers scale comes in most handy, this is one of my top favorite kitchen tools. Also important are my KitchenAid mixer, my whisk and my rubber spatula!
As part of a team, my co-cake decorator, boss and I decide how to go forward with our weekly cake orders. Usually, the customer sends us a photo of their dream cake. It is our job to make those dreams come true! Together, we decide if the cake should be taller, decorated in buttercream or fondant, and any other steps we may need to take to get the perfect finished look!
Learn more about what a baker does by checking out this skills profile.
I was born/grew up in: I was born in Surrey, British Columbia and lived there until I was 13. From then, I moved to New Westminster, British Columbia until I turned 19.
I now live in: Currently I live in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia and by far it’s my favorite of all the places that I’ve lived!
I completed my training/education at: I completed all three levels of the baking and pastry program at Vancouver Community College as well as recently having been able to complete and pass my Red Seal written examination.
When I was
- Home Economics
- Business & Economics
- Enjoyed doing things on my own
- Liked helping people
- Enjoyed working with my hands
- Was motivated by success
- Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
- Liked reading
- Was really creative
- Learned best “by doing”