Artist Spotlight: Cake Designer Shadee Jergens

A Q&A with senior cake designer Shadee Jergens.

Photo by Paul Miller

 

When Shadee Jergens started a small side hustle making cakes in high school, she never thought it would lead to becoming a senior cake designer at one of the best boutique bakeries in Denver. Jergens grew up in a small rural town in Montana where there weren’t a lot of people requesting modern-styled cakes. She’s mostly self-taught, but soon fell in love with baking and decorating—and when she moved to Colorado in 2010, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Her illustration degree helps her with design concepts so she can ensure her cakes are all unique for her clients. French For Sugar has allowed Jergens to hone in on her creativity as she becomes an “artistic guide” who assists in making people’s visions come to life.

Cake decorating vs. designing

“I love decorating, but there’s something special about being the architect of the design that certainly helps put the designs in perspective. I don’t think you can really be a successful designer without knowing how to decorate, and vice versa. They truly go hand in hand—a good baking professional who specializes in this type of work and really cares about his or her craft understands that on a very profound level.”

Her aha moment

“I knew I wanted to be a cake designer when I won my first competition for a four-tiered wedding cake that I exhibited for a 4-H State Fair competition in Montana. I completely cleared the ribbons and the judge that was on the panel came up and told me that I would be stupid if I didn’t follow this craft. Being only 15 years old, I knew at that moment that I wanted to focus more on making edible artwork.”

Her passion for desserts

“Besides having an absolute sweet tooth myself, I recently found out that baking is in my family history. Over the past year, I inherited my great-grandmother’s recipes and cooking utensils. After reviewing her box of recipes, I realized that she had a passion for baking pies, doughnuts, and cabbage pockets. She was also a school teacher and mother! Baking comes with family traditions, something I hold to this day with high standards.”

Photo by Paul Miller

Her favorite thing to make

“I’d have to say that my Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie is a favorite recipe and probably my best to date. Nothing is more classic than a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. They are my husband’s favorite, so they are a constant in our house.”

Perfecting her craft

“I think it’s safe to say that my position here at French for Sugar has been about perfecting my craft. I tackle new challenges every day, and between weddings, baby showers, birthdays, and holidays, I’m constantly being thrown into new territories of cake designing with new techniques I have never tried before. I love it! I do bake at home for family and friends and I would love to compete more, but the shop is always booked. It’s a great position to be in, always busy and always trying new things.”

Her pride and joy

“It’s the smiles from customers. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the happiness and gratitude of the people that make my job so amazing. I love knowing that I helped make their event special with something beautiful and delicious that I created.”

What people don’t know

“The amount of technical work that goes into making a cake. You’re dealing with gravity, structure, temperature, and humidity; and that’s just the foundation of a cake. Then you get into the decorations… Overall it’s the time you spend painting, trimming, building, molding, sculpting, color matching, composition, and the overall design you have to think about. There’s also a flow to a cake that is only matched with experience and knowing what looks good.”

Advice for aspiring cake designers

“Be prepared for extremely long work nights and fallen cakes. Be prepared for the body aches and swollen fingers. But above all, be prepared for the feeling of pride when delivering someone’s dream wedding cake, making someone’s birthday the most memorable day of their lives, or presenting a customer with something that they call a masterpiece. It’s all an emotional rollercoaster, so just be ready for it all.”

French for Sugar
1201 E. Colfax Ave, Ste. 101