Monday, March 1, 2021

Home City Life Taking the Cake: Utah Women Take TLC's "Next Great Baker" by Storm

Taking the Cake: Utah Women Take TLC's "Next Great Baker" by Storm


Rox and Kai are not your typical Cake Boss: Next Great Baker contestants.

Originally from the Hawaiian islands, they’re family—a dynamic aunt/niece duo. They’re also entrepreneurs who own their own businesses, warm and engaging, funny and beautiful.

Oh, and another thing—both are self-taught bakers.

Kaiulani was 29 when she discovered her hidden, cake-whispering ways. As a broke single mom trying to find a birthday cake for her 2-year-old daughter, after viewing a couple Youtube tutorials, she decided to try her hand at baking a cake of her own. The result? A beautiful, professional-level fondant-and-buttercream masterpiece that quickly caught the attention of forums and editors around the web.

“I came to the birthday party, and there was just this huge cake. I said, ‘When did you do this?!’ It was her first cake!” gushed Roxanne, who once baked but had since moved on to the world of beauty, starting the Midvale-based salonLava. (At the salon, clients can not only find stylists and aestheticians, but visit to a Peruvian shaman to get rid of negative energy.)

Before being invited to audition for NGB’s third season, Kai started a baking business that specialized in organic, sugar- and gluten-free cheesecakes and cookies (you might remember the delicious goodies from your Sundance Film Festival swag bag), naming the line of treats Kailava. Rox explained the meaning behind the name: “Kai, which is part of her name, in Hawaiian means water. And lava represents that fire and inner passion. It’s about living your passion and your dreams.” As for the healthy status of her treats? “On the show, Buddy did not like that,” laughed Kai. “He likes sugar!”

Not quite making the third season of the show, Kaiulani was invited again to audition for the fourth season, this time landing a spot among the contestants. As the producers of TLC’s Next Great Baker decided to switch up the format, this time pitting teams of two against each other, Kai enlisted the help of her aunt, Rox.

Though they didn’t want to spill too many secrets about the season, both concluded that reality television was a far more bizarre but rewarding experience than either had suspected. Rox recalled, “It was always, ‘What are they going to do next?’ It was always a surprise . . . surprising and stressful.”

Fast-forward three months to the premiere party for the fourth season premiere of Next Great Baker: both Rox and Kai are nervous but excited, neither knowing how their experiences on the show will be manifested on television or how what they’ve said and done will be cut.

The pair’s tight-knit group of friends and family were invited, as were other notable figures in the entertainment industry, such as Kishmere Carter, the designer of Kai and Rox’s uniforms, as well as costume designer for local film and TV faves Unicorn City and Studio C. Also in attendance was Joe Haze, the Los Angeles-based, spiky-haired, reggae-loving music producer for Sublime, Marilyn Mansen and Nine Inch Nails. Another celebrity guest was the handsome Smallywood star Darien Willardson, whom you’d probably recognize from flicks like Storm Rider, Magic Christmas, and the upcomingThe Last Straw. And, of course, Jesus the shaman was there to grace the party with good vibes.

The party may have been studded with local and national celebrities, but the star that really took the cake was (unsurprisingly) the cake. Over three feet tall, pyramid-shaped and boasting the jet-black head of a jaguar, the giant, statuesque sweet showcased the truly remarkable talents of Kai and Rox.

Regardless of the outcome of season four of Next Great Baker, with a supportive circle of family and friends, increased publicity for their growing businesses, and shared memories of the over-the-top baking competition, the Hawaiian beauties have emerged victorious.

Even in the exploration boom of the 1800s, nobody dared to explore the terrain flowing through the Green and the Colorado Rivers.⁠

That is, nobody until Major John W. Powell said the 19th Century equivalent of “Hey man, hold my beer while I try this.”⁠

Read more about his dangerous expedition at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo of Powell’s expedition courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division⁠

A brand new issue of Salt Lake magazine is coming your way! ⁠

We can't wait to share these stories with you. This issue includes our annual Blue Plate Awards celebrating those surviving and thriving in the restaurant biz. Plus, we take a road trip to Wyoming and ask why the only Utah passenger on the Titanic didn’t survive her journey.⁠

A note from our editor Jeremy Pugh, including beautiful tributes to Mary Brown Malouf from our friends in the community, is online now. Read more at the link in our bio ❤️⁠

Subscribers: Look for this issue in your mailbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands March 1! 📬

Today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Blue Plate Awards! ⁠🎉⁠

These prizes honor the growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs who do more than put good food on the table—they make our community a better place to live. This year, just surviving as a local business deserves an award, but each of our Blue Plate winners did more than that. They made us grateful for every person involved in the essential act of feeding us.⁠ 🍽⁠

At the link in our bio, we have the full list of winners, a celebration of feats of COVID creativity and a tribute to restaurants we lost this year. If you’re hungry for more, pick up a copy on newsstands March 1! Plus, check out our Instagram for spotlights on some of the Blue Plate winners. ⁠

This year’s Blue Plate Awards are the first without our beloved Executive Editor Mary Brown Malouf. We dedicate them to her, our town’s biggest food fan, critic and champion. xoxomm⁠ 💙

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @ricobrandut for Staying in Beansness⁠

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove and now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.” 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award Winner: @spicekitchenincubator for Keeping the Spice Flowing⁠

This year Spice Kitchen Incubator, already an essential resource for refugees, became, well, even more essential. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @thestore_utah for Special Deliveries ⁠

As grocery delivery becomes the new norm, The Store offers a personal touch that only an independent grocer can provide. Last March, high-risk and elderly customers began calling in their grocery lists over the phone, and The Store’s general managers personally delivered food to their homes. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @cucinaslc for Preserving Neighborhood Connection⁠

Cucina’s outdoor spaces became a place where the neighborhood could gather safely. Owner Dean Pierose offered free coffee in the mornings and encouraged his regulars to linger and commiserate together, preserving a semblance of society during a socially distanced time. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @oquirrhslc for Betting the Bottom Dollar⁠

When COVID-19 hit Salt Lake City, Oquirrh co-owners Andrew and Angelena Fullers' dream was seriously damaged. But the Fullers keep trying to follow the rules. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @hearth_and_hill for Opening Doors⁠

As the pandemic ravages independent restaurants, Hearth and Hill has reaffirmed its commitment to small businesses in Park City and used its large dining room as an informal gathering space for the city. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @fisherbrewing for Creative Canning⁠

This year, Fisher found ways to utilize their beer, taproom space and canning capabilities for good. They created special lines of limited edition beers in custom cans to help raise funds for local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. 💙⁠

A wind storm #tbt for your feed today. 🌬️🛹⁠

2020 was a long, long, loooong year, so we asked local photographers to share what the new normal looked like through their eyes. The link is in our bio!

Just hours after being sworn in, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for a review of the boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The monuments—designated by Barack Obama in 2016 and Bill Clinton in 1996—were reduced by roughly 2 million acres by former president Donald Trump, and the executive order is seen as move towards restoring the original boundaries.⁠

Read the full story through the link in bio.⁠

📸Bears Ears National Monument: Courtesy of Utah Office of Tourism

What’s your favorite park in Utah? ...