by Taylor Rutledge
A Sweet Beginning
I am Pastry Chef Taylor Rutledge, a resident of Augusta, Ga., and my baking story began at the age of 15 with nothing more than a hand mixer and a dream. I started out small, baking and decorating cakes after school for friends and family as a fun hobby. I developed my skills by watching shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes. Watching these shows challenged me to think outside the norm when it came to my cake creations. While in high school I had to complete a senior project, which involved researching and shadowing a topic of my choice and this sparked my interest to deep dive into the cake world. I studied the art of cake decorating, learning new techniques to do with icing, sugar flowers and fondant. I used this project to get more familiar with this innate talent I had and to gain some insight on how I could develop this into something greater. Upon graduation, I attended Augusta University to pursue a degree in Communication.
During my first week at the university, I baked my signature Red Velvet cupcakes and went around delivering them to my dorm neighbors which is how I met Raysean. We instantly had a connection not just due to my delicious treats but also for our love of Spongebob and he has been one of my best friends ever since. I received so much great feedback on my cupcakes and some inquiries about how potential customers could place orders. I made a choice to expand my business by creating a Facebook Business page, to display my creations and to help with scheduling orders I was receiving for occasions like weddings, award ceremonies and 50th birthday celebrations. In between attending classes and working part-time, I would make my creations as well as found time to sell my treats at the Downtown Augusta Market. Each Saturday I spent selling my baked goods I became more confident in my craft and believed in the bigger picture that my business could aspire to. I obtained her bachelor’s degree in May of 2017.
A Tart Center
I attended The International Culinary Center in Campbell, California in the fall of 2017. I had to embark on an exciting, but also terrifying experience that would take me all the way to the West Coast. I had never been to California, nor did I know of anyone who lived there. One of the biggest fears I had was being away from my friends and family and not having anyone there with a familiar face. I had to muster up the courage to go. With my raw talent and full support of my parents, I traveled across the country to attend the 3rd best culinary school in the nation. On the first day on campus, I was surrounded by equipment I had only seen on the Food Network. There were stainless steel appliances, long wooden working stations, dual ovens, galore. I was issued my Pastry Arts tool kit, which came with all the essential kitchen utensils I would need for class and an ICC engraved Chefs knife. This was the start of an epic journey and I was planning to take full advantage of this opportunity that was afforded to me.
My first course was cookies, I remember thinking “ oh cookies..this will be a piece of cake”, however, I didn’t realize there were so many technical things to know about cookies. A treat so small has many components and if you do not have the perfect ratio it can go from a delicious treat to a messy blob. I had a knack for working with cakes, but I soon developed a love for all facets of the Pastry world as the courses went on. I learned how to make sculptures using poured sugar, tempered chocolate and sometimes a combination of both. Making art pieces from this edible material and then having to transport that artwork to the judging table, was a nerve-racking experience. Upon seeing it all come together, in the end, was quite rewarding and calmed my nerves at the time. I then used the skills I learned to figure out how I could incorporate those techniques into my cakes. I developed skills far beyond my imagination of ever having, and it was all made possible by following my passion. In April of 2018, I graduated from the ICC as a Professional Pastry Chef and have my certification for managerial food safety.
Setting The Table
Now with the official title as Pastry Chef Taylor, I am once again following my passion and am in the works of opening a storefront. I’ve always imagined having a bakery filled with Taylor-Made desserts and seeing customers light up when they walk in. I want to be able to have a place for my customers and for fellow/aspiring bakers. As I was growing up, the only examples of the Pastry art profession that I saw came from watching the Food Network. I want to bring that closer to home. With these aspirations comes a lot of responsibility as I work a full-time job during the week. In my free time, I am working diligently to build a foundation for Taylor-Made Kakes. One way I have been doing so is through an I-Fund Women Campaign that I have launched to help fund opening a storefront. I have created a faithful following on Facebook, full of loving supporters. I’ve had so many supporters over the years who have invested in my business and I am eternally grateful, but no one has matched the commitment of my parents. They took a shot in the dark in supporting me when I brought up the idea of making cakes. They saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself at the time. I am truly grateful for all of their unwavering love. At the age of 24, I have accomplished so much over the last 9 years.
Developing a hobby into a growing Bakery takes many sacrifices, but I am confident that it will only continue to expand in the near future. You can do anything that you put your mind to. As long as you believe in your vision no one else can determine your path or how far you can go. Chase your dreams and when you finally catch them never let it go. You never know where they may lead you.
What are some of your passions?