As the holiday season approaches, we’re starting to plan those holiday menus and fabulous standout creations that will be the talk of our friends group for years to come. Helping give bakers an upper hand, Latricia McKenzie-Halyard is offering several courses to teach the craft, and as this week’s Big Five guest shares how she went from homemaker to Food Network competitor.
Tell readers a bit about yourself and how you came to Flagler County.
I moved to Flagler county with my husband and small children in 2012. The city of Palm Coast was similar to Deltona, where I’m from & I loved the quietness. I started entrepreneurship at the age of 7. I’m a 30 year entrepreneur who got her big break in 2019 on the Food Network, in addition to being a homemaker, mother of 2 and wife.
I have a Culinary degree, have been a singer most of my life and I can sew, craft, do hair and paint like nobody’s business. I was well known in Volusia County where I was born as the ‘Jill of all Trades’ and Bethune Cookman’s Freshman Idol of 2004. I’ve come a long way from being an introverted soul.
How did you discover your passion for baking?
We’ll, it’s crazy. I’ve been baking since forever with my grandma and mother as well as cooking. I kind of focused on all my other talents and always looked at doing anything with food as cliché because everyone in my family could pretty much cook well.
My family was on a strict budget and I decided to start the tradition of setting up balloon banners and creating special cakes for my children. It was therapeutic for me and made me feel at peace. Then word got out that I was good at it…. And word of mouth made a way for my family. It became the additional source of income for my family we really needed, and I’m known for trying to master anything I do. Family and friends loved my drive and watched me get better and better. Word got out more about how good my cakes looked and tasted and the rest is history.
You have a talent for culinary art and rumor is you sing while doing it. How does it help enhance your creativity and where do you find your inspiration?
Thank you for recognizing my talent. It was one I had buried and didn’t realize I even had! As I was saying before, cake decorating has always been therapeutic for me, and whenever I’m truly relaxed I naturally sing, it just comes out. The thing is, I sound good and people are amazed and just stare. Now I’m asked to sing because it helps others and helps the time pass by as they wait to see my finished cake projects. I find my inspiration from within. I really don’t know how I do what I do, I just have a strong desire to create. I feel accomplished and I like to feeling accomplished.
What was the experience like being on The Food Network’s Cupcake competition?
It was the most nerve wrecking thing I’d ever done! When they called me to be on their new show I was blown away. “ME? What? How? Why me…..”
Their simple answer was, I had that sparkle in my eye and the talent to match. They’d been watching me for quite some time and wanted to showcase my talent and my smile. I always said I had “crooked teeth” but they obviously didn’t care about that nor did they see what I saw.
I also had never been on a plane in my life, so I was terrified of flying and not to mention clear across the country by myself! That was a triumph all by itself me getting on that plane to California.
I never thought about or dreamed of being on The Food Network. I knew I’d be great and the world would know me one day, but I always thought it would be as a singer, not a chef and baker. It brought out the best in me, I met amazing people of all ethnicities and genders, and everyone’s energy was magnetic. I made lifetime friends from the show and made the judges dance to my dessert. It was everything, exciting, terrifying, empowering, assuring and a flat out miracle. It proved to me I had something inside of me God saw that I had yet seen. And it made me come home with a determination to be my best self like never before.