Surviving a serious injury, George Brown alumni returns as a teacher

Cake artist Sarah Fortunato developing a new course for culinary students

“Unfortunately, this injury will never go away, but that’s okay,” said Sarah Fortunato a George Brown College (GBC) alumni. “I’ve learned I have a limit.”

An award-winning graduate of the GBC pastry arts management program with a background in fine arts from Ontario College of Art and Design, Fortunato used to have a dream job. A severe back injury forced her to leave behind a career as a freelance cake artist.

A combination of a physical job and bad genes, her injury was a wake-up call.

“I couldn’t walk for a year,” said Fortunato. She thinks the injury was her body finding a way to make her slow down. “Honestly, I think that’s the most important thing.”

Fortunato enjoyed the GBC program she was in for its variety, learning chocolate and bread work on top of pastry. She then pursued a career of a freelance cake, confection and cookie artist. Fortunato made both of her passions – culinary and the arts – work together. Until her back injury changed her life.

After a year of intense therapy, Fortunato is back in the kitchen. Searching for a path to take after recovery, she turned to the college for assistance. She was offered a position on the other side of the classroom as a teacher.

Currently teaching a miniature desserts course, she is also developing her own course. Although she had to leave cake design, she still considers herself as an artist.

Being inspired by a project is key to her, “that is my priority and goal in life and in career.”

In spring 2016 she will bring a new six-week sculpture and specialty cake course to culinary students. To enroll, students will be required to have a previous culinary course as a prerequisite. Beginning with creating simple-shaped cakes, students will develop the skills for a final project. By the end of the semester, each student will have to design their own cake.

“That’s the most exciting part for me, to see what other people will come up with,” said Fortunato.

Fortunato’s future aspiration is to make chocolates. Inspired by all the variations there are for sweets, along with a relatively easy process, she hopes to continue teaching and creating her own beautiful chocolates in a commercial kitchen.

To see more of Sarah’s work, visit her website


Surviving a serious injury, George Brown alumni returns as a teacher