Debbie Fontaine believes every cake has a story.

Every specialty cake shop has a story too, but the one she owns and operates is the one most near and dear to her overflowing heart.

Edible Art, a premier bakery for specialty cakes and cookies, was almost born out of necessity. Debbie, who married a Longview boy and set up hearth and home in East Texas, wanted cakes to commemorate special occasions, such as the birth of her daughter and their birthdays. She was never very happy with the results, though, when she ordered cakes.

So, the former high school cake decorator dug out her tips and other decorating tools and went to work on a cake for her daughter’s fifth birthday.

Knowing that she had a skill for decorating and the commitment to being a stay-at-home mom spurred Fontaine on to making cakes for other people’s special occasions.

Twelve years ago, Fontaine bought her first retail location. When her daughter started driving and being more independent, she expanded her business. When her daughter left for college, she expanded yet again.

“This has been a journey of passion and of love,” Fontaine said.

The passion and love is as much a part of Fontaine as the artist she planned to be when she was in college.

“A counselor steered me away from an art degree,” she said. “He said I’d be a starving artist.”

Instead, Fontaine earned a business degree.

“I’d love to find that counselor and show him that you can earn a living doing art.”

The artistry that goes into every cake and cookie that Fontaine and her team create is an homage to keeping their work interesting, fun and unique.

“No two cakes are alike. No two customers are alike. No two cookies are alike,” she said. “There’s something new and something different every day.”

New and different could mean the custom flora and fauna on a wedding cake, the painstakingly fluid calligraphy on a birthday cake or the attention to detail on a cookie.

Fontaine’s specialty is flowers, but not just buttercream roses. She loves creating peonies, sunflowers and greenery so detailed you can see the ribs in each leaf.

Then there was the Van Gogh cake, the one in which Fontaine mixed colors on a palate and freehanded the iconic “Starry Night” image onto a cake.

“Every cake is a blank canvas and it’s our job to breathe life into it,” she explained.

Fontaine and her team have breathed life into cakes with 3D trucks, a Chevy Chrysler and a drum that Travis Barker would be proud to pound. There have been bowling cakes with pins suspended in mid-air as they fall and wedding cakes so carefully crafted they match the exact details of the bride’s dress.

In 2017, Edible Art’s work earned it the No. 6 spot in the top 10 list of Texas bakeries on the website Another feather in Edible Art’s cake cap is in the works: a cake for the upcoming Sesquicentennial Ball.

“It took three of us to sketch it out,” Debbie said. “We’re going to turn historic photographs into black and white sugar.”

To make those kind of cakes means putting in some serious hours

While Edible Art is open at 8 a.m., the team is there much earlier, sometimes as early as 4 a.m.

Each day starts with a game plan, Fontaine said.

They work off an order board, planning their moves accordingly. Cakes for the day are already baked, cooled and ready to be decorated. The team knows each person’s skills and talents and assigns tasks accordingly.

Meanwhile, internet orders are coming in fast and furious.

“We field a lot from husbands who might otherwise be divorced because they forgot their wives’ birthdays,” Debbie said.

{Disclaimer: No actual husbands in the Longview area forget their wives’ birthdays.}

Then, there’s the cookie situation.

Every other day, anywhere from 600-1,000 cookies come out of the Edible Art ovens. The Edible Art artists carefully dress them, assembly line style, for distribution at businesses around Longview. Edible Art also expanded to include a food truck in 2019 — the Edible Art Cookie Express.

Edible Art

Reina Sanchez decorates cookies, on Thursday January 16, 2020, Edible Art. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The team is so cohesive that they saved and pooled their tips for two years so they could take a trip to an international baking convention in Las Vegas last fall. The team met Duff and Buddy from The Food Network. They sat front row at Cirque de Soleil. They hobnobbed with the “best in the world,” Fontaine’s own words.

“We went and learned so much and it was so neat watching what went on in their minds and seeing that they’re in an industry that is unlimited,” she said.

What was also neat is knowing that the secret to her success can be directly attributed to the people who surround her.

“They are the heart and soul of Edible Art,” Fontaine said. “Every person here cares. Every person here exudes positive energy and positive work.”

Their positivity and forward thinking has helped Fontaine propel Edible Art into a formidable online presence, with a shop that ships cookies all over the place.

Despite having a “holiday team” who handles the extra volume of confectionary sales during peak seasons, Fontaine realized over Christmas her business is experiencing some growing pains and might have to expand in the future.

Her next goal is to keep working with the Longview Economic Development Corp. on a “dream project” and see that come to fruition.

“The lesson to be learned here,” she said, choking back emotion, “is to never, ever, ever, stop dreaming and to follow your passion because then you will always love what you do.”

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