Tunde Dugantsi’s colorful gingerbread cookie decorations have served as a way for the 46-year-old Bowling Green resident to connect with her Hungarian roots.
Her beautiful designs have caught the attention of the public so much that she has made a business out of her artistry.
Dugantsi built her own studio and uses it to teach cookie decorating classes as a way to make a living and to pass on the skills she garnered from the culture of her native Hungary.
Dugantsi’s classes have become so successful that she has now received national recognition for her work.
The popular food, recipe and cooking site “The Spruce Eats” recently named Dugantsi’s cookie decorating class as one of the nation’s seven best classes in its field for 2021. The cooking site attracts an estimated 243 million annual readers from across the country.
“It’s a total surprise,” Dugantsi said. “I didn’t even know about it until the end of December.”
Dugantsi’s classes took home the honor of “Best Old-School” class as her cookie decoration designs draw from the folk art traditions of her native Hungary.
After moving to Bowling Green from Hungary in 2007, Dugantsi soon started decorating cookies on her own as a hobby in 2012.
She then began teaching her techniques. In 2018, she built her cookie decorating studio at 1106 Adams St. and made her hobby into a full-time job.
“I’ve always been a creative person,” Dugantsi said. “I started decorating cookies in 2012, and I really haven’t stopped since. It’s been my creative outlet.”
In Hungary, decorating gingerbread has been a tradition that has carried on for centuries.
Despite a decline at the start of the 20th century, you can still find some gingerbread workshops in Hungary that continue to preserve the old traditions from generation to generation.
For Dugantsi, she grew up with the gingerbread tradition and still uses the old techniques today. However, she also uses new techniques to make her designs unique and stylish.
In Dugantsi’s culture, gingerbread is used more as a gift than for food in Hungary.
“It’s a great gift item,” Dugantsi said. “Cookies make people happy. To see the happiness on their faces is just the best feeling. It mostly means connections. It’s a very accessible hobby for everyone.”
In addition to her classes, she has also published seven books about cookie decorating, creates video tutorials and also keeps up a blog.
There are a handful of ways to take one of Dugantsi’s classes.
First, one can subscribe to “Club Cookie Academy” a subscription-based online learning opportunity with two new classes monthly and is hosted on Facebook.
For those who are more on a budget, pre-recorded online classes are also available.
Live, interactive hands-on online class options are posted on tundescreations.com, and she also offers a one-on-one, private class option.
To fully participate, you need a device on the internet and all the class supplies. Online registration is required for all classes.
In-person classes were previously available before the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Theresa Lever, Dugantsi’s cookie decorating classes are so enjoyable that she has driven from her home in Elizabethtown for the past three years to take them in-person.
“She is amazing,” Lever said of Dugantsi. “She is just a phenomenal person, and her artistry is love-filled. When you can pass on a talent that makes others feel good – that’s a special talent. She has a rare gift.”
Lever added that the classes were so fun and engaging that people from around the country would be in attendance online.
“You will leave her class feeling wonderful,” Lever said. “And you will also leave with a beautiful set of cookies.”