Emily Pille from Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom, California, was crowned the 2015 Grand Champion at the Pillsbury National Cake Decorating Competition March 22 at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show in Chicago.

The award includes a winner’s check for $4,000. She placed second in the wedding cake category, first in sculpted cakes, and won the overall grand championship, which is sponsored by the Retail Bakers of America and Pillsbury.

Since starting work at Karen’s Bakery six years ago, Pille has had three children, and says the demands of competition are time consuming. But entering the competition inspired Pille to elevate her skill set and stay on top of the latest ideas and industry trends.

“It was just a great experience to be working on the level that everybody was at,” she said. “All of us get to talk with each other about what works and share secrets of the trade. We also meet great people.”

At the bakery, customers pay $100 to $500 for custom cakes. Wedding cakes are generally more expensive and are priced according to the number of guests served. Pille says her favorite cakes are those in which customers “trust us to do what we want.”

Next month, Karen’s Bakery will celebrate its 15th anniversary by inviting customers to help decorate a variety of cakes.