What happens when a cake decorator bring her sense of cultural heritage to her niece's first birthday party? Well, you find a sweet spot. At least cake decorator Leslie Vigil did.
Vigil is the owner of Tasteful Cakes in Corona, Calif., and she inspires her clients and 114,000-plus Instagram fans (follow her at @_leslie_vigil_ ) with genius Mexican embroidery cakes that taste as good as they look.
"The first one was for my niece for her first birthday," Vigil says. "We had a fiesta theme and I wanted to make a fun smash cake inspired by our Mexican heritage, with the colors of the party and her dress incorporated into the design, just like you'd do for a wedding cake." Vigil worked with the patterns on her niece's tiny dress and posted a photo of the cake online — and a trend was born.
"I started getting more requests for Mexican-themed events, fiestas, parties. I had to up my game!" Next came a deep dive into traditional Mexican textiles. "I got reconnected with my own culture," she says. "I was directly inspired by textiles and stitching." And the cakes just got better.
Vigil helped her mom cook as a young girl, but it wasn't until she got involved in baking that she was "totally in," she says. She learned classic, traditional techniques for baking and pastry at culinary school, and then developed her own style. Today she's everywhere with embroidery cakes, succulents, geodes and other eye-popping modern designs.
Inspired to up your own game? Here are Vigil's top tips for cake artists:
- Make time for play. "Creating shouldn't always be under a time restraint," Vigil says. "I always have a journal with me and I jot down ideas. First chance I get, I make some time and play with designs or the color palette I was inspired by. Have fun and experiment!"
- Never stop learning. "Don't feel like you've mastered something and you're done. Talk to artists, not just cake artists — you're always a student."
- Make it your own. "Everybody has their own blueprint for their life, their experiences, the things that inspire them. You don't have to make things look cookie-cutter. Don't be afraid to put your own spin on things."
And one last tip: share before you slice. Vigil loves Instagram for enthusiastic fan feedback. "So much of yourself goes into creating what you create," she says. "There's no shame in putting it out there!"