The Sweet Life
Baker and cake designer, Terilyn Cortez (aka T.C.) is a self-taught cake artist with a passion for baking and cake decorating that began in early childhood in her native home town of Mays Landing, NJ. Her late uncle and accomplished pastry chef, James Ashley, gave her a glimpse into the sweet life. "The dessert table at their house during the holidays was insane! Pies, cakes, you name it...and it was all delicious! I remember being so amazed and not knowing which one to try first."
One of her favorite pastimes was to watch her parents work; studying their hard work ethic, she always learned something new. From watching her mother bake the family-famed holiday fruitcakes and cookies each year, to the fond fascination she had with her father's meticulously detailed auto paint jobs and canvas paintings that he enjoyed as a hobby. The combination of talents and artistry from the family tree would later manifest itself as a love and passion for cake design.
It wasn't until the mid 90's when she struck out and did something she'd never done before but wanted to give it a try...a stacked cake (wedding style) for her daughter's 6th birthday. The pink and lavender vanilla boxed cake with ruffled swags, polka dots, and dancing ballerina topper was a huge success...even without the support of dowel rods! That was a moment of truth and such began her humble cake beginnings.
Through the years, T.C. has been inspired by various cake artists and has dedicated much time to honing in on her own bright and playful aesthetic style, technical skills, and perfecting those home-spun recipes handed down from generations past.
In 2010, her son convinced her to take her talents from home hobbyist to formal business venture and just months later, Jolani's was officially opened for business. The name may remind you of a quaint Italian bistro, but is actually a clever play on the names of her three children, Jovan, LaShonda, and Brittany. T.C. has a fun and colorful style with a twist of refined elegance. "I love the creative freedom of baking and cake design...my customers tell me a story and a vision of their cake begins to unfold in my mind. Bringing that vision to life and seeing their reactions when the cake is revealed is a great feeling."
Today, you'll find many of her own signature creations on the Jolani's flavor menu, including the Jolanapolitan as well as many fun and creative cupcake flavors that her son and aspiring chef had a hand in developing. Her newly created Juju's & Jimmies YouTube channel offers basic tutorials and fun tidbits for beginning bakers and cake decorators. In 2018, she participated in her first professional cake decorating competition and plans to keep on growing and creating.