COOK OF THE WEEK: Cake decorating and Paula Deen rock Tippah County woman’s world

RIPLEY – Sharon Goolsby can rattle off the names of artisans and chefs she’s met from the Food Network and through ICES, the national organization for cake decorating.
“I have met Paula Deen, Colette Peters, Martha Stewart, Jacques Torres, Kerry Vincent and Nicholas Lodge, to name a few,” she said. “Out of every one of them, Paula Deen was my favorite.”
In August 2006, Goolsby scored the last available ticket to one of Deen’s cooking classes in Savannah, Ga. In fact, it was one of the last cooking classes Deen taught before beginning a new cooking show.
“We spent the whole day there at Uncle Bubba’s restaurant, even though it was just supposed to be a few hours,” Goolsby said. “Her whole family was there. Her agent, her brother, her two sons and her husband, Michael, were all there. We just had a great time. I can’t believe I got that last ticket.”
Goolsby returned to her home between Ripley and Falkner with an armload of signed cookbooks and some wonderful memories.
“Paula is just as down-to-earth in person as she is on TV,” she said.
While Deen is known for her down-home Southern-style cooking, Goolsby is known for her cakes.
“Cake decorating is a form of art for me,” said the mother of two and grandmother of two. “I only do cakes for close friends and family. It is a hobby that, at times, can get out of control.”
Goolsby got her start in cake decorating from Rose McCoy, owner of Creative Cakes in Tupelo. “Rose and I have been friends for many years,” Goolsby said. “In 1991, my son was in a bad wreck and Rose was over physical rehab at the hospital in Tupelo. She saved my sanity. I don’t think I’ve ever told her that, but she did. Shortly afterward, she opened her shop.”

‘Poor’ co-workers
Goolsby likes to make each cake bigger and better than the last one.
“My main objective is that each cake has the highest quality ingredients – it has to taste great,” said Goolsby, a corporate officer at Hill Brothers in Falkner. “It’s even more fun if it’s a challenge. The biggest challenge, though, is transporting a cake in the back of a vehicle. I haven’t lost one yet.”
Each holiday season, Libbi Bryant Bennett, owner of Expressions in Ripley, asks Goolsby to create a new cake just for her open house. One year it was her four-layer The Devil Wears Red Velvet Cake; another it was a Devil’s Food Cheesecake.
“Cheesecakes are something I accidentally fell into,” she said. “A friend wanted her wedding cake to be a cheesecake. My poor co-workers had to suffer through months of eating cheesecakes until I got it perfect.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal