by Lydia Zhang
Photo courtesy of Monica Espinosa
Guidance counselor Monica Espinosa is well on her way to learning professional cake decorating. Espinosa discovered her love of cake decorating two years ago, after attending a class at Michaels, an arts and crafts retail store, with her two sisters. “My sisters thought it would be fun if all three of us took it together,” Espinosa said. But, while her sisters finished two classes, Espinosa went on to complete all four basic-level classes at Michaels and found that cake decorating was a hobby that she really enjoyed.
After the classes at Michaels, Espinosa loved it so much that she started looking for more advanced classes in cake decorating. She then started attending decorating classes from a company called Sweet Celebrations and also became involved in the California Cake Club (CCC), after being introduced to it by the owner of Sweet Celebrations.
From then, Espinosa decided to spend some of her summer learning even. From July 12 to 17, she went to Hendersen, Nevada, to take part in Cake Camp, a program run by the CCC.
While there, Espinosa was able to take classes from both professional and famous cake artists. “There were a huge variety of classes you could take, from beginner classes to more advanced classes,” Espinosa said. “They literally had classes from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The people there were really serious about cake decorating.”
According to Espinosa, the level of experience there varied depending on the student. “There were both amateurs and professionals taking classes there,” Espinosa said. “They taught everyone the same way, though.” Every participant was then allowed to showcase their cakes at a banquet and had the chance to enter the camp’s cake decorating competition.
Espinosa says that there were a lot of different decorating skills students could learn at the camp, especially from the camp’s instructors. “All of the teachers were so forth-coming with information,” Espinosa said. “They were really open and willing to share some of their cake decorating secrets. Some of the teachers there were even cake decorators featured on The Food Network, like Marina Sousa.”
According to Espinosa, the students at the Cake Camp practiced exclusively on dummy cakes, which are fake cakes made of Styrofoam and cardboard, to test and practice new techniques. Espinosa says she learned many new tips, like which mediums, such as modeling chocolate and fondant, would be ideal for different decorating tasks. “The camp was eye-opening and it exceeded my expectations,” she said.
Espinosa says that she can see cake decorating as a potential career option after she retires from guidance counseling or possibly just as a side business. “I really love it,” Espinosa said. “It’s really fun and actually relaxing to me. It’s like a hands-on, stress-reliever and I get to express my creative side.”