Instagram / Leslie Vigil

This Pastry Chef Turns Cakes Into Museum-Worthy Works of Art

Cake artist Leslie Vigil calls herself a “flour child.” The pastry chef turns cakes into museum-worthy works of art, blowing away customers with her amazing buttercream creations.

With her latest designs, so-called tapestry cakes, the 34-year-old has become something of a trendsetter in her field.

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Leslie got her start as a child when she attended a cake decorating class with her mom. As an adult, she enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, specializing in baking and pastries. Even with those impressive credentials, she found it hard to land a job after completing her schooling.

So Leslie decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I took what I learned from school and built upon my knowledge by watching, reading, experimenting, and learning in every way I could,” she told Better Homes and Gardens.

What was a fun hobby has now turned into a high-profile career. As a pastry chef, she’s turning her cakes into museum-worthy works of art, which she displays on her Instagram feed for anyone not lucky enough to live close enough to place an order.

When she found it tough to find a job, Leslie continued to work on her decorating skills. And eventually her hard work paid off.

Leslie found a position at Tasteful Cakes in Corona, California. The Southern California bakery is known for some seriously creative cakes. Leslie contributes stunning buttercream creations that show way more than mere technical skills. They spring from a vision that’s uniquely hers.

That vision has led her to create her latest collection of cakes in a style she calls “tapestry.” Leslie uses a meticulous piping technique to decorate the cakes in a way that resembles embroidery stitching.

The cakes are beautiful and colorful — covered with carefully stitched flowers, decorative patterns that reflect nature, and deceptively simple designs that give them a folk-art feel. Leslie typically references nature in her designs, but these tapestry cakes take cake art to a whole new level.

For these cakes, Leslie says she’s been working with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year, Living Coral. Some of the stitched designs remind people of traditional Mexican folk dresses, like those worn by artist Frida Kahlo. Leslie also uses other sources for her inspiration. 

Leslie looks to Russian stitch work to inspire her cake designs, in addition to Mexican influences. “I love the idea of harmonizing textile traditions from different cultures,” Leslie said in a caption for one of her designs.

The first idea of using embroidery stitching on cakes came to Leslie when making a cake for her niece’s first birthday celebration. She made a smash cake that incorporated stitch-like embellishments all around the border of the cake and the “1” on top.

Her cake designs are inspired by all sorts of stitch work. In addition to embroidery, Leslie incorporates elements of cross-stitching and traditional needlework in her decorating. The results look not only delicious but stunning as well.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Leslie said: “I’m really loving what fabric artists are doing now with their crochet, weaving, and macrame. I’d love the opportunity to explore some techniques to recreate those gorgeous textures.”

Leslie’s unique technique has gotten increasing attention, and it appeals to many people who appreciate the old textile feel. Brides especially are loving the style. Many brides have asked Leslie to copy detailing from their dresses onto their wedding cakes.

Leslie handles specific design requests like the professional she is. She doesn’t find that it stifles her creativity at all. Such requests often come from a place of deep meaning, she says, and she’s happy to provide that.

Leslie explained to BuzzFeed: “It’s all very personal and nostalgic. And while I love the way the cake turns out, I think the sentiment is the most beautiful part.” No one can deny the amount of heart that is in these cakes.

Each stitch requires a steady hand and precise movement to make it appear perfect and be a seamless part of the bigger picture. It takes Leslie’s incredible eye for detail to elevate these creations to the next level.

People who love bright colors love these cakes. Cake design has branched out in so many different, fascinating ways, but there’s something very appealing about Leslie’s cakes. They look playful and fun.

Leslie’s precise line work is evident in all her designs. It can certainly be seen in her embroidery-style designs, but it’s also evident in her other work.

Here’s another amazing example. This masterful edible tribute to Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night on a cake is seriously impressive — it’s a cake that looks like a museum-worthy piece of art! It’s hard to imagine cutting into it and eating all that work!

Leslie took a break from her cake work last year to give birth to her first child, daughter Magnolia. Still, the popularity of her tapestry cake series has only increased in her time away. There is a staying power in her cake designs.

In addition to creating unique cakes, Leslie shares her talents with others. She now teaches workshops to help others create beautiful cake and cupcake designs, instructing on the techniques she uses most. You too could become a pastry chef and turn cakes into museum-worthy works of art!

It’s almost mesmerizing to watch Leslie bring these magnificent designs to life, seeing all those small, precise movements building into the beautiful, textured floral tapestry. Leslie is an incredible artist for making it look so easy!

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