as the creator of “Exquisite Cakes with Incredible
Taste”; Phyllis Lester declares that beautiful cakes
are memorable only when they have fabulous flavor...
This demanding concept embraces all pastries prepared
by Phyllis Lester Designs. The following narration follows
her journey to acclaimed success in the art of cake decoration.
Phyllis’ earliest connection with food is through
her father. He was a gourmet cook when gourmet meant good
cooking, rather than fancy cooking, as in today’s
context. Another early recollection was baking a cake
with her mom. The baking powder they used was old, so
their cake didn’t rise. To this day, Phyllis always
makes sure she has plenty of fresh supplies on hand. Inspired
by her high school Home Economics Teacher Camille Zangara,
Phyllis was inclined to follow a career in that direction.
But, a fear of physics and chemistry redirected Phyllis’
studies to majoring in French at The Ohio State University.
Born in New Jersey, Phyllis moved to Solon, Ohio to start
a family with her husband Bob, whom she met in college.
Phyllis’ career started by chance; reacting to an
unsatisfying cake she bought from a well-known Cleveland
bakery, to celebrate their daughter’s 1st. birthday.
That was the only cake she ever bought. It was pretty,
but it was dry and had very little flavor. Phyllis decided
that the next cake would be one she baked. Phyllis became
a student at Basken & Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream,
in Solon. Her plan was just to bake for family. Phyllis
continued to take more advanced courses from many sources,
and gradually joined associations focused on cake decorating.
Always outgoing, Phyllis invited many dinner guests to
the Lester home. They were treated to Phyllis’ desserts.
When invited out, Phyllis was sure to bring a beautiful,
great tasting cake. The reason Phyllis was able to do
this is because she fed the experimental cakes to her
family. Phyllis unintentionally evolved into a professional
cake decorator. Friends who tasted her cakes began to
ask Phyllis to make them “special occasion cakes”
and offered to pay for the ingredients. That didn’t
last long; Phyllis was getting inundated with requests.
Other favorite activities, such as knitting, weaving,
and going out, were becoming less frequent.
Phyllis’ hobby transitioned into a business. As
Phyllis grew her business, she became more knowledgeable
about related vendors so that she was able to advise her
clients concerning party planners, event centers, florists,
photographers and videographers.
Arguably, the best cake decorator in North East Ohio;
Phyllis enjoys repeat clients and word-of-mouth new business.
Success did not come over-night. Phyllis’ youthful
appearance and attitude belie a career spanning 37 years,
Travel in pursuit of education has taken Phyllis to Paris,
France to study at the Lenôtre School; The French
Pastry School in Chicago to study petits fours, Classic
French Pastry and pulled sugar with Sebastien Canonne
M.O.F. Ewald Notter, the foremost pulled sugar and chocolate
artist in Orlando, Florida, has also inspired Phyllis
in her sugar and chocolate artistry. In the end, Phyllis
has found that majoring in French was helpful in her travels
and as well as being able to read the French recipes!
Phyllis is a member of the Wilton Teacher’s Hall
of Fame, and continues to teach adult education cake decorating
classes. Being a longtime member of ICES (International
Cake Exploration Society) has given Phyllis the opportunity
to go to many conventions across the country to share
and study with other professionals in her field.
Several Phyllis Lester signature contributions to her
craft are legendary. You know Phyllis did it when:
• The dessert is said to be “an event in itself”.
• It’s a beautiful and great tasting Baked
Alaska that looks like a basket of roses.
• It’s baked from scratch. Phyllis always
strives for intense flavor; totally without artificial
flavoring and coloring.
• The design is asymmetrical. Phyllis feels that
perfectly balanced designs seem less appealing.
• When you get a phone call the next day asking,”
how did things go?”
• Phyllis Lester Cake Designs voted Best of 2006
by the readers of the Cleveland Jewish News.
• Posted on the MyFoxCleveland’s Hot List
/ Wedding Cake Category, announced November 15, 2007.