Many Shelby High School graduates go on to have amazing and unique careers, but Shadee Jergens, daughter of Jeff and Jeanette Jergens, takes the cake, literally.
Jergens moved to Denver, Colo., in 2010 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration degree from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. While not many in her hometown were requesting modern-styled cakes, she realized her love for baking and designing at a young age when she won her first competition for a four-tiered wedding cake that she exhibited for a 4-H project at the Montana State Fair.
“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,” said Jergens. “Being only 15-years-old, I knew at that moment I wanted to focus more on making edible artwork.”
Baking is an inherited trait in Jergen’s family, as her great-grandmother also had a passion for it. Jergens inherited her recipes and cooking utensils. While her great-grandmother had a passion for baking pies, donuts and cabbage pockets, Jergens shared that her favorite thing to make is still her classic chocolate chip cookie recipe.
“Nothing is more classic than a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie,” smiled Jergens. “They are my husband’s favorite, so they are a constant in our house.”
Jergens currently improves upon her baking and cake creating talents at French for Sugar in Denver, where she takes on new challenges every day. Many don’t realize it, but the amount of technical work that goes into Jergens’ art is incredible, and a bit mind-boggling.
“You’re dealing with gravity, structure, temperature and humidity,” said Jergens. “And that’s just the foundation of the 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.”
A wide array of customers come through the doors of French for Sugar, every one of them looking for the perfect cake for their baby shower, wedding, birthday parties or holiday event. Jergens does her best to give each and every one the perfect dessert centerpiece.
“I’m constantly being thrown into new territories of cake designing, with new techniques I have never tried before,” she said. “I love it!”
But what she loves even more are the smiles on customers’ faces upon seeing the final product.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the happiness and gratitude of the people that make my job so amazing,” said Jergens. “I love knowing that I helped make their event special with something beautiful and delicious that I created.”
Jergens’ career is one that will continue to give her new challenges, something she thrives on and looks forward to. Never a dull moment, Jergens is excited to see what each day brings and ready to invest countless hours into her craft, providing the customer with an outstanding result. As with any craft, time, willingness to learn new techniques, and dedication are required for success. Her advice to aspiring cake designers?
“Be prepared for extremely long work nights and fallen cakes. Be prepared for the body aches and swollen fingers,” concluded Jergens. “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.”