Pete Tidwell works on a custom cake while he tells the story of how he came to run a bakery.
Tidwell is the owner and operator of The Mighty Baker, which opened in late 2015 at 50 E. 500 North in Provo.
Even at 7 a.m., the bakery smells of cake, and Tidwell’s apron is dusted with flour. He said he started working for his brother at Gandolfo’s Deli when he was 15, and he worked there for 14 years.
“That got me really interested in the food industry,” Tidwell said. “All through those years, I wanted to open up my own food business.”
Tidwell said he watched Food Network cake shows like “Cake Boss,” “Ace of Cakes” and other cake competitions when he was in high school and college.
“I saw those people make these amazing cakes, and I thought, ‘I really want to do that for a job,’ because it looked like so much fun,” Tidwell said.
The cake artist behind The Mighty Baker attended Brigham Young University and graduated in communications with an emphasis in advertising. While attending college, Tidwell baked cakes on the side for friends and family.
“I was recruited out of BYU, and I went to New York City for a few years to work there in some marketing jobs,” Tidwell said. “Through all that, on the side, I was doing cakes for friends and family, and people in New York were ordering cakes off my website.”
Tidwell moved back to his hometown of Provo after living in New York for several years.
“My parents were leaving on an LDS mission to Africa, and so my wife and I had an opportunity to move back here to Utah and live in their house for free,” Tidwell said. “We decided to go home and officially start my cake business.”
Tidwell said he started his custom cake business about three years ago as a licensed home business. He said the company continued to grow and received so many orders that they needed a bigger workspace. Tidwell opened up The Mighty Baker shop on Wednesday Oct. 28, and he said it has been busy ever since.
“My favorite part of my work is the creativity that comes along with it,” Tidwell said. “I love being able to look at a picture that a client hands me and figure out, with materials like cereal treats and cake and frosting, how I can put them together into a cake that people want.”
Tidwell said interacting with his customers is another one of his favorite parts of running The Mighty Baker. He said he does free cake tastings for brides, and he loves helping them discover what they want in a wedding cake.
“I just bring them in, talk to them and learn about who they are and how they met their fiancées,” Tidwell said. “It helps me personalize their wedding cake a little more.”
Tidwell said the biggest challenge of his work is dealing with a new and growing business on top of all the custom wedding and birthday cakes that he works on each week.
“We just opened a few weeks ago, and I’m already thinking I need a bigger kitchen,” Tidwell said.
Visitors to The Mighty Baker’s storefront know the decadent desserts go quickly. The bakery only sells its specialty desserts from Tuesday to Saturday, but on those days the building is always packed with eager customers.
“My best dessert is something we serve here at our store: it’s a sweet potato cheesecake,” Tidwell said. “When I lived in New York City, in Harlem, there was a bakery right down the street from my house. They had a sweet potato cheesecake, and I just fell in love with it. We just formulated the recipe to get it to where we want it, and it’s amazing.”
Tidwell said he wanted to open up his storefront because he wanted a personal interaction with his clients.
“In Provo, there are a lot of at-home hobby bakers that do cakes,” Tidwell said. “But there was no shop dedicated for people to walk into and order a wedding cake. That’s what makes us different.”
Tidwell said it was difficult to leave New York because he and his family loved living there, but Provo provided the perfect opportunity for his new business.
“I was born and raised here in Provo,” Tidwell said. “Provo has a great vibe of art and music, and it’s always changing. We really liked the vibe of the food scene that you see with places like Black Sheep Café and Communal, and we thought we’d fit right in here.”
Tidwell explained how he found the building that is now home to The Mighty Baker.
“Local music artist Mindy Gledhill and her husband bought the building last spring,” Tidwell said. “My wife follows her on Instagram, and she noticed her Instagram post about buying the building. We called her, came to look at the place, and decided this was where we were going to be.”
Tidwell said he is always searching for culinary inspiration for his specialty desserts and custom cakes.
“I watch Food Network all the time,” Tidwell said. “I follow a lot of top dessert chefs in Europe and New York on Instagram. I’m always trying to get creative spins off what they’re doing.”
Tidwell described the customer response since opening his storefront.
“Lately, I’ve been working 90-hour weeks,” Tidwell said. “But I still love trying out different ingredients and creating beautiful cakes.”