?: bill sitzmann
The Omaha Bakery
Longtime baker Michelle Kaiser assumed her friends were pulling a prank. She had, after all, made no secret of her dream of appearing on national TV. Turns out, the person on the other end of the line really was from the Food Network, recruiting her to compete on season four of Spring Baking Championship. “She said, ‘When we looked at your Facebook page, we realized you were a true, homestyle-type baker, and that’s what we were looking for,’” recalls Michelle, owner of The Omaha Bakery, a center-of-town sweet spot for wedding cakes, breads, brownies and peanut butter-bacon-sea salt Colossal Rolls.
It is also the culmination of a 30-year rise in baking that started in a grandmother’s rural Nebraska kitchen and included formal study, apprenticeships, work and early entrepreneurship in New York. (Music icon Madonna was a big fan of Michelle’s carrot cake.) Even though she didn’t go home with the $50,000 prize, Michelle views the Food Network experience as a true blessing. She learned she could bake outside her comfort zone. (Coriander in a layered ombre cake? She attempted that.) More importantly, she gained a whole new appreciation for the community she now serves.
“There are so many people who believe in me and want to see me succeed. That’s my motivation to keep doing what I’m doing.”
“It was incredible – the number of people who came to the bakery after the show aired in March. They said, ‘Michelle, you were humble; you were kind; you were everything that Nebraska is about. You represented Omaha so wonderfully that we can’t be anything but proud.’ … It was the most beautiful thing.”