Editor's Note: This story was originally written before The Mighty Baker changed its business model. Currently, The Mighty Baker has discontinued all store hours and is focusing exclusively on customer cake and dessert catering. It is also developing curriculum for a cake decorating class.
PROVO — When you walk into The Mighty Baker, you’ll probably feel like you’ve been there before, even if it’s your first time: You’ll be greeted by a warm hello, you’ll choose between gooey chocolate chip cookies and tangy lemon tarts. The Mighty Baker somehow feels both homey and innovative, both traditional and fresh, both old and new.
The secret ingredient is the mighty baker himself.
Pete Tidwell, who launched the popular Provo bakery, followed his dream and kept his day job. The two-time winner of Food Network’s “Cake Wars” brings a humble, neighborhood feeling to his rapidly growing business. He started as a marketer by day and a baker by night.
Tidwell baked casually in his youth and during college, but moving across the country to work in marketing changed everything. New York bakeries inspired him. After a long day of work, Tidwell would come home and bake. He tried recipe after recipe, all inspired by the bakeries he frequented.
“I would just do cakes and desserts as a stress relief, but it got to the point that I noticed I had a lot of natural talent for it,” Tidwell said.
Another source of baking inspiration came from the Food Network.
“I would always think, ‘How cool would it be to do that for a job someday?’” Tidwell remembered.
Once he realized he had natural talent and that he wanted to pursue baking (at least as a second job), he moved his family of four back to Utah. Shortly after the 2013 move, he landed a full-time marketing job, in hopes that he could start a baking business on the side. On nights and weekends, Tidwell sold his cakes at the Provo Farmer’s Market and booked a few weddings. Through his family’s efforts and word of mouth, Tidwell's local reputation as an expert baker grew.
By 2015 he was working “essentially two full-time jobs,” and had enough business to pursue baking full time. The Mighty Baker was born — as was his third child.
“That was the fun and scary part, because I quit my full-time job right before we had our third child, so of course we gave up benefits, we gave up the luxury of having a regular paycheck, all those kinds of things,” Tidwell remembered.
Only a few months after opening The Mighty Baker, Tidwell’s wife encouraged him to apply for “Cake Wars,” reminding him how much he once loved watching Food Network baking shows. He initially resisted because he didn’t feel ready, but ultimately decided to apply. The “Cake Wars” team contacted him within weeks, and he competed in the “Halo” episode of “Cake Wars” during Season 3.
“In the end it came down to two of us, and when they announced that we won, it blew my mind that that actually happened,” Tidwell said.
He won $10,000 in prize money, which he put toward a new oven for The Mighty Baker. The business became even busier after his win.
The Food Network contacted Tidwell again, and he won a “Power Rangers”-themed episode which pitted previous “Cake Wars” champions against each other.1 comment on this story
The Mighty Baker has seen incredible success on a short timeframe. However, Tidwell never takes full credit for anything he does. Whenever he talks about his successes, he chooses “we” over “I.”
Pete Tidwell's aunt, Kathy Tidwell, does marketing for The Mighty Baker, and said although The Mighty Baker isn’t completely a family business, it still has that feeling.
“He has some people work here that aren’t family,” she said, “but it becomes family when you start working together.”