Meet the Woman Who Launches Beautiful Cake Trends
Leslie Vigil of Tasteful Cakes inspires thousands with incredible creations made of batter and frosting. Get the inside scoop on some of the secrets behind her stunning cakes and cupcakes.
From stirring batter at her mother’s hip to mastering the art of French pastry at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Lesli Vigil now decorates up a storm at Tasteful Cakes in Corona, California. Leslie aced many tricks and techniques that now make her one of the most ❤-ed cake creators on Instagram. She has more than 100,000 followers on that one social site alone. Find out what keeps the 32-year-old cake artist inspired and what she wishes more home bakers knew about the most delicious kind of science (baking, of course!).
How did you get your start in the cake world?
Baking began as a hobby when I was young. My mom would often experiment in the kitchen and she took a cake-decorating class. I was so fascinated with all the beautiful things she made and brought home, so I decided to join her. I'd study her cake decorating books and feel so inspired. At the time, I only knew I wanted to make cakes for my kids like that one day, never really considering I could make a profession out of it. I always hoped I could, though.
Much later on, I attended Le Cordon Bleu [a prestigious cooking school in Paris] and completed a baking and pastry program. It totally changed my life. I witnessed my chef instructors create the most amazing cakes, sculptures, and showpieces out of chocolate, buttercream, fondant, and sugar! Then it just clicked for me. This was it. This is what I wanted to do.
After I completed the program—and then couldn’t find a job right away—I started off as a humble but very eager home baker and cake decorator. I knew I needed more experience so I created the experience for myself. I took what I learned from school and built upon my knowledge by watching, reading, experimenting, and learning in every way I could. I would even record the cake challenge competitions on TV to study their every move and techniques. I knew I had a long way to go, but I was determined to be just as good! I wanted to have just as much confidence, knowledge, and skill as those competitors did. While the confidence didn’t set in for me until much, much later, I eventually gained enough knowledge and skill to land myself a job at Tasteful Cakes.
What’s the best cake you’ve ever eaten?
The best cake I’ve ever eaten was a chocolate Bundt cake that my mom gave me for my 16th birthday. It was just such a good day and the fact we were all sitting and enjoying something together made the day even sweeter. I’ll always remember that moment.
What inspires you?
Inspiration for the kind of cake art I create comes from my love and fascination of nature. I have found so much peace walking in a botanical garden or growing my own cacti and succulents in my own garden. I try to take that feeling and transfer it over to my cake art. Oftentimes during a piping session, I slip into a moment of zen. When I create botanicals out of buttercream, I always have the real ones in mind: how they grow, how they form, how perfectly imperfect they really are.
I have the tendency to completely submerge and overextend myself with my work, so to avoid burning myself out, I simply take a break. Sometimes that means just hanging out with my husband, Dan, who constantly makes me laugh. Sometimes I’ll take some time to play in the garden. When Dan and I have a free afternoon, we’ll go to the Huntington Botanical Gardens or drive out somewhere in the mountains and just reconnect with peace and quiet, which allows me to reconnect with my joy and boost my creativity.
Tell us more about your day job—and how you balance it with your social media presence. It can be a struggle to unplug, we bet!
Ahh yes, balance. I’m still trying to work on that one! For 40+ hours every week, you’ll find me at the bakery. It can be a very demanding job, especially during the spring and summer with weddings, graduations, and parties. It definitely keeps me on my feet and on my toes! Aside from my decorating position, I also act as a caretaker part-time for my dad.
There are some days where there isn’t much energy left and very little sign of life behind the eyes. That being said, I knew some time ago that if I wanted to keep my joy and passion for my profession intact while still having enough energy to be a present wife and daughter, I needed to learn good self care. For me, that means to not be so hard on myself, focus on what’s important and what makes makes me happy, and listen to my body when I need to rest. I can meditate if I have a moment or even just breathe if I have half a moment.
Managing my social media can sometimes pose a challenge with my hands constantly full, but I make it work with what I can in the time I can. My amazing and supportive husband (who is such a talented photographer) taught me how to operate a camera enough to where I can take my own photos. That means I don’t have to set an entire day aside for someone else to come in and do a photo shoot for me. So I take photos of my work as I go then put my camera away and get back to work on the next project. All the posting on Instagram usually happens before I begin work for the day or on a day off. Fortunately for me, integrating the social media hasn’t felt like a burden. It’s allowed me to showcase some of my most favorite projects that I truly enjoyed creating.
What do you think most home bakers get wrong when they bake/decorate cakes?
Not enjoying any bit of the process. If you hate every minute of it, what’s the point? Your love, passion, and inspiration will always shine through your work...but so will your disdain.
What is next for you—and Tasteful Cakes?
This October, my husband and I will be welcoming our first child. That will definitely be an adventure! I’ll be on maternity leave at Tasteful Cakes for a while.
Down the road, I’m hoping to venture into “cake coaching” to teach others how to tap into their potential and develop their creativity in the kitchen. I have the dream and the plan, I just need the find the right platform.