Terri Kullerd Fontenot, a Moss Bluff native, wears many hats. Fontenot not only works on the Calcasieu Parish School Board, but she’s also a certified Wilton cake decorator and teaches classes at Michael’s, the Moss Bluff Senior Center, as well as private lessons. “Even Superman had a day job,” Fontenot laughed.
Terri Fontenot (TF): I’m a certified Wilton cake decorator and I try to teach two classes a month at Michael’s and two at the Moss Bluff Senior Center. I also do custom orders. At Christmas, I usually do a lot of the caramel apples and cookies.
CC: What made you want to start your business?
TF: For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated with baking. My mother wasn’t a baker and my grandmother, her mother, was a wonderful cook. I had two great aunts and they were amazing bakers. I had a great Aunt Molly who used to make lemon meringue pies and I was fascinated with that. But, I had an Aunt Fronie and she was the true baker. She would make this four layer rich chocolate cake with billows of white seven-minute frosting.
My Aunt Fronie had a brother who worked for the former Governor McKeithen and Fronnie used to make a Heavenly Hash cake, a chocolate cake with a gooey marshmallow layer and chocolate icing with toasted pecans, for John McKeithen.
CC: What or who inspired you to do so?
TF: My Aunt Fronie. We would go to see her every couple of months to see her and my older sister was going to nursing school at LSU so it was close proximity. She would have all of these cakes made and it was fascinating and amazing. But for me, she would have this bowl and I’d stir. You don’t think, “Oh, everything has to be sifted.” There were little things that you don’t think about as a kid that you’re learning to do. When I was older, she started to talk to me more about it and about how everything mattered.
CC: How long have you been doing this?
TF: More than 15 years. I actually took a class from a woman named Maria and she suggested that I teach. I wrote about it on my blog. It’s called Buttercream, Roses, and Maria.
CC: How did you go about starting your business?
TF: My oldest son went into the Marine Corps and I was in the hotel business. Once he left for the Marine Corps, I needed to fill my days. There was a Michael’s down the street in Tulsa, Oklahoma–that’s where we lived at the time. I went and it was on a Saturday. There was a table with crowded people and there was a lady piping buttercream roses.
I was like, “What are you doing?” I had seen pastry chefs before, we had them at the hotels, but I had never seen anyone do that. I was fascinated by it and she told me that I could take a class on how to do it. I immediately asked her, “Where do I sign up?”
There’s a post on my blog called Buttercream, Roses, and Maria. She’s the one that suggested I teach. She said, “You have a real passion for what you do and you’re not a perfectionist. It’s the passion that gets people excited.”
Then I started baking cakes and people would say, “Oh, it’s a really good cake. How much?” I started a little business in Oklahoma called Terri’s Treats. When I got here, I picked it back up after several years as Terri’s Treats and I mostly did farmers markets and a few custom orders. But then, Michael’s classes began to pick up and people began to ask me for private lessons.
CC: What do you wish you knew before starting out on your own path?
TF: I would’ve said, like that Julia Child quote, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” When I was younger, instead of going through that stereotype of, “No, you can’t bake cakes for a living. You have to be a school teacher.” I would’ve told myself that as I had the opportunity and I was learning these things, you should’ve stayed with it because it’s really what you like to do.
Interested in taking a class? The cake class at the Moss Bluff Senior Center is around $40 plus tax and the cupcake bouquet class is around $30-$35 plus tax. For private classes, it depends on what you’ll be learning but it can range from $30-$40 an hour.
For exact prices and to schedule a class, you can contact Terri Fontenot directly at email@example.com or on Facebook at @Terribakesandteaches.
Want to see an alternative version of this article? Check out the one I wrote for the Lake Charles Metro Leader here.