The Wilton School is home to the most experienced staff of cake decorating instructors in the world. Along with Associate Director Sandy Folsom, Instructors Susan Matusiak, Mary Gavenda and Debbie Friedman have a combined 111 years of cake decorating experience. They have taught cake decorating at Wilton a total of 58 years and have worked on more than 85 instructional publications distributed worldwide.
Sandra Folsom - DirectorSandra Folsom has been teaching professional cake decorating classes for over 35 years, 25 of which have been for Wilton Industries. Sandra has promoted the easy and fun techniques of decorating to the general public through her many television appearances including ABC, NBC, FOX news and The Food Network. She has become one of Wilton's local TV corporate media spokesperson appearing on The Food Network's Unwrapped. Sandra's vast knowledge and expertise in decorating has allowed her to participate as a judge in various contests throughtout the years. As Director of The Wilton School, she has introduced more that 150 new classes and helped to attract many of the world's most highly-regarded decorators as instructors. Routinely, culinary experts from around the world come to Woodridge to learn the art and intricacies of cake decorating from Ms. Folsom. She has also been an active member of the International Cake Exploration Society (ICES) since 1981 and is an approved ICES instructor. Internationally, she has shared her expertise with well-known professionals and traveled to Curitiba and Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia, Guadalajara, Chihuahua and Mexico City, Mexico; Taipei, Taiwan and Manila, Philippines. A first time class in Europe was held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2010, and another was added in Wormer, Netherlands in 2011.
Folsom's education has been from Gum Paste Classes taught by Amy Rohr and Nick Lodge, instructor from England and author of many cake artistry books. Rolled fondant was learned from American cake stylist and author of five books, Colette Peters of New York. Her candy-making and chocolate expertise was gained from attending Elaine Gonzales, author of "Chocolate Artistry" and "The Art of Chocolate" classes. Sandra has also worked with Rose Levy Berenbaum, author of "The Cake Bible".
For ten years she had the opportunity to work side by side with Wesley Wilton, the youngest son of Dewey McKinley Wilton, founder of Wilton Industries. Additionally, classes taken at the American Institute of Baking, College of DuPage and American International Academy of Floral Design have provided baking, candy and floral knowledge plus the curriculum and educational concepts to become a good school director. Sandy's student's describe her as "patient, fun and a great instructor". Owning a bakery, specializing in bread, rolls and of course, decorated cakes with her husband provided much practical experience.
Her creative flair comes from a natural ability and working in Wilton's Creative Deptartment on the annual yearbook. Her stint in the Wilton Test Kitchen adds to her problem solving skills to be able to answer any questions that a student may have.
Lorena Frias-Hernandez - InstructorLorena Frias-Hernandez began her kitchen career over 30 years ago as a self-taught individual. Her passion for the culinary and pastry arts led her to take her first Wilton cake decorating class in 1985, taught by Wesley Wilton.
Lorena is a graduate of the Wilton Master Course (1985), Chinese American League (1988, with honors), Washburne Trade School (1989), La Camara National del Pan (1995), The French Pastry School (Chicago, 1999), the Instituto de Arte del Azucar Mexicano (2001), and the Centro International de la Porcelana Fria (Chicago, 2003). She has also studied under instructors such as Sandy Folsom, Nancy Guerine, Laurie Bradach, Colette Peters, Maise Parrish, Marithe de Alvarado, Marcela Capo, Dominic Palazzolo and Nicholas Lodge.
In 2005, Lorena opened "Sweet Delights Bakery", a successful specialty bakery and pastry shop that she was owner, manager, decorator and creative force. She applied her 30 years of learning and developed an innovative combination for the various mediums and techniques. In 2008, Lorena sold her business so she could focus and pursue her passion for teaching, creating and innovating. In 2008, she began teaching for the Wilton School and was hired as the Classroom Coordinator/Instructor, where she has helped streamline the learning process for students, translated for bilingual students, and introduced the hands-on baking, 3-D Gelatin, and fondant modeling classes to the curriculum. And yes, she is still competing! In 2008, Lorena won 1st place in the professional category of Wilton's 80th Anniversary Celebration cake contest.
Lorena's vast knowledge in cold porcelain, marzipan, gum paste, European & Mexican breads, candy molding and many more, has allowed her to participate as a judge in various contests. She is an active member of ICES since 1992 and an approved ICES instructor.
Debbie Friedman - Instructor
Ms. Friedman started her cake decorating career teaching the Wilton Method Cake Decorating Classes in 1983. She has taught at Sears, JCPenney, Wards, Party City, Park Districts, School Districts, Byerly's and employees of Wilton at the Corporate Office. Having taught over 1,000 students, Debbie was installed into the Wilton Hall of Fame in 1997.
Her training started in the Educational Marketing Department with three training seminars as well as holding class certificates in cake decorating by well-known instructors such as, Roland and Marsha Winbeckler and Earlene Moore. She also holds certificates from Colette Peters for fondant and gum paste, and Elaine Gonzalez and Pam Vieau for confections classes.
She has been an International Cake Exploration Societe (ICES) member since the late 1980's and has attended at least 12 annual conventions where she takes up to ten classes each time with specialty and internationally acclaimed instructors. She continues to participate in ICES Days of Sharing, which includes instruction of and learning with other decorating experts in a variety of mediums.
Currently she works in Wilton's Creative Department as a designer/decorator/artist. Her responsibilities include creating photography-ready cakes, cookies, candy and pastry projects for new packaging and labels, as well as the annual Yearbook and other publications.
In addition, Debbie works with Sandra Folsom teaching the Master Course at the Wilton School and teaches Chocolate Confections and Intro to Rolled Fondant classes also held at the Wilton School.
Mary Gavenda - InstructorIn March of 1976, Mary Gavenda started a cake decorating career as one of the first Wilton Method teachers in the Chicago area.
To improve her decorating skills and teaching techniques, she attended the Master Course class at The Wilton School in Chicago in January 1977.
She continued teaching the Wilton Method Program, both basic and advanced courses, for approximately 12 years at various Sears, Wards and JC Penney stores in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago. During that time, Mary was added to the Wilton Hall of Fame. In the fall of 1985, she was asked to assist in the Wilton Test Kitchen.
In early June of 1986, Mary was summoned to work in the Cake Decorating Room at Wilton. As a Cake Decorator, and her current position as a Senior Cake Decorator, she creates the cakes for Photography to be used on new labels and packaging, and in all Wilton publications. She is also a Food Stylist, creating special food designs.
Gavenda holds certificates from Wilton's Master Course with Wesley Wilton, Mary Jane Wilton and Connie Riehardt. Elaine Gonzalez - Chocolate Artistry class, Nicholas Lodge - Advanced Gum Paste class, Wesley Wilton - Pulled Sugar class, Connie Riehardt (1977) and Susan Matusiak (1996) Intro to Gum Paste class, and the Colette Peters Gum Paste and Fondant class.
Mary is a member of ICES (The International Cake Exploration Societe) and organization to promote the art of food and cake decorating throughout the world, with an international membership of approximately 4,000. She has served as an alternate representative, Illinois State Representative, ICES Board Member and Vice President, as well as, a Demonstrator at many conventions.
She has been teaching the Introduction to Gum Paste Class at the Wilton School since 1996, inspiring over 1,100 students in the art of making beautiful gum paste flowers.
Laurie Bradach - Guest Instructor
Laurie has been fortunate enough to live and study cooking in Italy, Greece and France. Back in the U.S., she has studied with such greats as Paul Prudhomme and John Ash. In 2001, she became co-owner of Cleesecakes with well-known British comic John Cleese, which offered unusual designs to well-known clients, such as Steve Martin, Angelica Huston and Kevin Smith. Since becoming an instructor at The Wilton School, Laurie has taught hundreds of students in the art of pulled sugar and Isomalt design.
Susan Carberry - Guest InstructorIn 2008, Susan became the proud owner of The Cake Cottage in Murrieta, California, where she teaches popular cake decorating and specialty sugar art classes. Susan's edible works of art have been featured in American Cake Decorating magazine and on Food Network's Top Five program.
Barbara Evans - Guest Instructor
Since 1981, Barbara has owned and operated the Wedding Cake Connection--located in the Peoria, Illinois area--offering custom-designed wedding cakes. She's a past Show Director, Board Member and State Rep for ICES. In 2008, Barbara earned the title of Certified Master Sugar Artist. In 2010, she competed on a team as part of TLC's Ultimate Cake Off. She has been in several publications including: ICES, American Cake Decorating, British Sugarcraft, Chicago Brides and Florists' Review. Barbara is a teacher and judge, and has taught a variety of classes including fondant, gum paste flowers, quilling, stenciling, chocolate, gingerbread, stringwork and run sugar.
Kim Morrison - Guest Instructor
A Certified Master Sugar Artist, Kim is known for her lifelike sugar flowers and elegant wedding cake designs. She has been competing in and judging cake shows for many years. She runs Cakes for Occasions--her specialty cake business in central Pennsylvania--and teaches sugar art design nationwide. Originally an artist with a BFA in glassblowing and watercolor, she chose to become a cake designer and sugar artist declaring that: "Chocolate tastes so much better than paint!" Kim was grand-prize winner in both the 2003 and 2004 National Wedding Cake Competitions in Oklahoma, and Mid-Atlantic Show Wedding Competition Grand Prize winner in 2007, and Best in Show at the Great American Cake Show in Maryland in 2011.
Eurico Palasigue - Guest Instructor
Jing has worked, taught and studied in the United States and in the Philippines. Since 2001, he has been a teacher at ICES and a cake decorator at Rolf's Patisserie in Lincolnwood, Illinois. A Certified Master Sugar Artist and a past Wilton Method Instructor, Jing was the first-prize winner at the On The Spot Cake Decorating Contest in 1993 and at the CARBA Midwest Professional Bakers Conference in 2007. He also placed second overall at the On The Spot Cake Decorating Contest in 2008. Jing is currently a Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Chicago.
Colette Peters - Guest Instructor
Owner of Colette's Cakes in NYC and former Tiffany's designer, Colette is the author of Colette's Cakes: The Art of Cake Decorating; Colette's Christmas; Colette's Wedding Cakes; Colette's Birthday Cakes and Cakes To Dream On.. She has created many unique cakes for celebrities, including Bette Midler, Donald Trump, Al Pacino, Sting, The Rolling Stones and The White House. She was the winner of the Food Network 1st Annual Wedding Cake Challenge and was also named a 2007 top 10 pastry chef by Pastry Arts Magazine.
Pam Vieau - Guest Instructor
Owner and resident chocolatier of Chocolate Inspirations, Pam is a culinary artist with over 20 years of practical experience developing and marketing specialty chocolate and confection products. Her company features unique chocolate designs and confections, focusing on custom-made chocolate creations. Pam's toffee was nationally recognized when Chocolate Inspirations was named one of four finalists in the confectionery competition for NASFT in 1999. She credits Elaine Gonzalez, her first chocolate instructor, for generating the passion she has for all things chocolate. Pam is driven to instill her joy for creating confections in all her Wilton students.