Do you ever wonder how our cake decorators create such beautiful masterpieces or how they got where they are today? Our Bakery Retail Improvement Specialist and amazingly talented cake decorator, Don Lovering, has come a long way in his career with Publix. Throughout the span of his career, he designed some of the most creative, one-of-a-kind cakes for different Publix events. His passion for cake decorating shows in the work. We asked Don to share his story with us and this is what he had to say:

First, I must give credit to the two most influential people in my life, my parents! My mother worked in a small private bakery during her teenage years. She would always decorate wedding cakes for friends and family during my childhood, and she taught me the art of working with my hands. My father gave me the values and ethics of hard work with hands-on experience in carpentry and construction. He is the one who encouraged me to go and work for Publix. Thanks, Dad!

I started my Publix career in 1974 in a store in Lakeland, Florida. While working in the bakery I had the opportunity to learn various scratch baking skills before graduating high school. After high school, I became a full-time baker and quickly moved up to assistant bakery manager.

Up until that point I’d only learned how to mix and bake completely from-scratch recipes. I was always intrigued by the talent that our decorators possessed and would beg them to show me how to decorate. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do something so fun and creative.

After opening a few stores in the 1980s as a bakery manager, I continued to learn how to decorate and even learned wedding cake production during this part in my career. I was selected to attend the American Institute of Baking Retail Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1986. This was the moment in time when I was exposed to a live demonstration of rolled fondant techniques. Upon returning to work, I would make regular requests asking our corporate bakery team to let me try using rolled fondant. I was finally sent some fondant from England to work with. After learning the fondant technique and fulfilling several special requests, Publix got into the rolled fondant program somewhere in the early 1990s.

I’ve always loved working with my hands and creating the special requests that no one else would do. Over the past 35 years I was fortunate to have been part of producing or assisting in producing many special occasion cakes for customers, associates and special events at Publix.

Throughout my career I’ve had the honor of working with other individuals on some very complex cakes and high-profile designs for various events. Here are some of my favorites:

Old Winter Haven store and compound bow. These cakes were for a retirement party.

Old Winter Haven store and compound bow. These cakes were for a retirement party.

Mr. George’s first store. Presented cakes inside the actual store now converted to a restaurant, for the historical marker unveiling. Associates in picture: Chris Moore- bakery RIS, Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager, Don Lovering- bakery RIS, Brian West- media & community relations manager.

Mr. George’s first store. Presented cakes inside the actual store now converted to a restaurant, for the historical marker unveiling. Associates in picture: Chris Moore- bakery RIS, Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager, Don Lovering- bakery RIS, Brian West- media & community relations manager.

Construction of the Lakeland Dreadnaughts battle ship to celebrate their championship ring ceremony for being undefeated.

Construction of the Lakeland Dreadnaughts battle ship to celebrate their championship ring ceremony for being undefeated.

Field construction, associates shown in picture: Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager and Hannah Lovering- decorators apprentice.

Field construction, associates shown in picture: Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager and Hannah Lovering- decorators apprentice.

Finishing the field on the 500 lb cake. Associates shown in picture: Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager and Hannah Lovering- decorators apprentice.

Finishing the field on the 500 lb cake. Associates shown in picture: Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager and Hannah Lovering- decorators apprentice.

Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager putting final touches on player’s jerseys.

Brittany Lavallee- bakery manager putting final touches on player’s jerseys.

Completed project before ceremony.

Completed project before ceremony.

An officer’s retirement cake.

An officer’s retirement cake.

Corporate office expansion announcement cake, the white strip on roof represents the new addition.

Corporate office expansion announcement cake, the white strip on roof represents the new addition.

Expansion cake; associates shown in picture: Don Lovering- baker RIS, Brittany Lavallee - bakery manager and Chris Moore - bakery RIS.

Expansion cake; associates shown in picture: Don Lovering- baker RIS, Brittany Lavallee – bakery manager and Chris Moore – bakery RIS.

Monique B.

Written by

Monique B. began her journey at Publix in 2010, where she fell in love with the fact that, as an associate, she was also part owner of the company. Since then, she has dedicated her skills in organization and creativity to Publix, taking a special interest in social media. At the end of the day, she hopes The Publix Checkout leaves you with the knowledge that Publix is more than just a grocery store – we’re experts, we’re family, and we’re here to help!

3 Comments on “A Cake Decorator’s Journey – Don Lovering

  1. AvatarRex

    Great piece!
    My sister in law Kerry Kunz worked for Publix in Jacksonville Florida for twenty years as a cake decorator. I used to be amazed of her cakes both personally and professionally. She has passed on since but her passion for this craft encouraged her granddaughter to go to culinary school to become a pastry chef which she graduates this year. My sister loved her job.

  2. AvatarNikki Wilbur

    Don is AMAZING! He’s the reason the bakery has always been my favorite department to learn. While I work with a great RIS team in the Jax division, Mr. Lovering will always be one of my faves!

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