Utah Stories

Self-taught Provo Baker Wins Food Network’s Cake Wars Two Times

Two time cake war winning Provo baker Pete Tidwell brings his award-winning cakes and pastries to town.


Pete Tidwell of The Mighty Baker. Photos by Mike Jones.

The Mighty Baker

Pete Tidwell, owner and head baker at The Mighty Baker pastry shop in Provo, didn’t originally want to be a baker. In high school he helped out at his brother’s Gandolfo’s Delis here in Utah. “Working at the deli is where I really gained the love of working with food,” says Tidwell.

He attended BYU and received his degree in Communication with an emphasis in Advertising. Tidwell moved his young family to New York City for a job with L’Oreal Cosmetics Company and later a contract job with Microsoft Corporation. Wanting to do something more creative, he began looking into pastry schools. “I really wanted to go to The French Culinary School (now called International Culinary School) in New York City, but it was way too expensive for me. An eight month course was $60,000 at the time,” says Tidwell. After jumping through some hoops, he was able to get the textbook for the course for a nominal fee.

“I started teaching myself on nights and weekends,” he says. “After many trials and errors, I realized I was getting pretty good at decorating cakes and trying different recipes.”

Tidwell wanted to open up a pastry shop in New York City; he quickly realized it was too expensive to rent a space there. His parents received a LDS mission call a short time later and asked him if they would be interested in moving back to Provo to take care of their house. “When we got the opportunity to live rent free for two full years, we jumped on it super-fast. We knew it was an opportunity to be able to open up my business or save money to buy a house.”

Almost five years ago Tidwell started making small cakes to sell at the Provo farmers market. “We did every 22 Saturdays that summer, and every weekend we would sell out,” says Tidwell. “It was a pretty good sign that people liked my stuff.” Two years ago he opened up his bakery storefront in Provo.

Not long after he opened the bakery, his wife, Charlotte, encouraged him to apply for the Food Network Cake Wars show. “She reminded me how much I loved watching the cake competitions,” says Tidwell. He was chosen to compete on the Halo Episode, (aired August 2016), based on the popular Xbox video game, where he and his assistant, Catrina Jones, beat out three other bakers with his Chocolate Brownie Pound Cake for the top prize of $10,000. The judging is on flavor and design. “If you can’t bake a good tasting cake, you’re not making it past round one,” says Tidwell.

Last December the Food Network contacted Tidwell to see if he could be in Los Angeles in two days for the Saban’s Power Rangers Cake Wars competition (aired March 2017). “We didn’t know it was a ‘Champs vs. Champs’ episode until we arrived.

We didn’t expect to win, and thought we’d just have fun, and of course, do our best.”

Pete and Catrina won the $10,000 again with his Dark Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Peanut Butter Italian Buttercream.

“After our appearances on Cake Wars, the bakery has just blown up for us,” says Tidwell. “I’ve had to hire 10 employees and extend our hours.”

The Mighty Baker, 50 East 500 North, Provo, Utah 84604. 801-368-6572

Below are links to two of Pete’s recipes:

Chocolate Brownie Pound Cake

Dark Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Peanut Butter Italian Buttercream

Local businesses and products Pete uses: Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Slide Ridge Farm (honey) in Mendon, Big J Milling & Elevator Company (flour)in Brigham City, and Provo Farmers Market for local fruits.


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