Cake Walk

Local baker Brandi Romines lives ‘impossible’ Netflix dream


HJ_Oct2021_CoverLexington baker and Harlan County native Brandi Romines often quotes a Ted Talk comment that inspired her: “You overcame 4 million to 1 odds to get here.” She says, “I had a lot of things stacked against me from very early on. I came from very humble beginnings and my home environment wasn’t the best. As an adult, I am very open about the fact I suffer from debilitating anxiety and I am a huge advocate for mental health, removing that stigma. Some days, just getting my job done is difficult. So, on those days, I have to tell myself, ‘you overcame way too many things to not get up and get yourself together.’

Romines landed a spot on Netflix’s new competition show, Baking Impossible, via a silver lining to a dark cloud. She explains, “My son was sick with a rare disease in 2019, Kawasaki’s Disease. A friend had done something very kind for my son Titus during that time. I visited my friend one day and saw a giant box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch on his desk. I thought ‘I’m going to make him a cake that looks like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and surprise him.’ She dropped it off and he loved it, and gave her “the green light” to share via social. As fate would have it, “That crazy little cake got noticed by a casting agent, and a week later, I was on a Zoom.”

Her family is instrumental in her inspiration and represent some of her finest work — like a Toy Story themed cake of Bullseye the horse. The catch? Her then three-year-old daughter insisted at the time that the cake must be a horse she could actually sit on. “So, with a lot of ‘bakineering,’ I was able to construct a structure that in fact allowed her to sit on her cake. She loved it. My son has never wanted anything too crazy, although one year I did make him a replica of a video game he loves, and it featured a light up portal.”

Being with my kids is the most important thing to me. So, to know that the legacy of my mom’s cake decorating is blessing someone like that is very special.

Filming lasted for months during what everyone assumed was the height of the pandemic — a pandemic that had devastating economic consequences for anyone in the special events business. She says, “It’s been difficult. Having events cancel, reschedule, constantly having to move things around to accommodate my clients. Luckily, my client base has been absolutely amazing and has supported me in any and all possible ways. And I will always be humbled and grateful for that.”

Photo by Pete Comparoni

There were bright spots too. In a pandemic-inspired pivot, she says, “I offered cake and cupcake kits to my customers. I baked and provided nearly all of the ingredients and then filmed a video of myself decorating the project. My customers got to follow along. A lady sent me the sweetest email telling me how much she and her kids had enjoyed decorating the cake together. She said that sometimes connecting with her teenagers is hard, but that it was something they all did together. I will never forget that. My mom passed away when I was 10 years old. Being with my kids is the most important thing to me. So, to know that the legacy of my mom’s cake decorating is blessing someone like that is very special.  When you lose someone, your biggest fear is them being forgotten. Knowing she is still living on through me is indescribable.”

After months of filming, what food was she most looking forward to on returning to her beloved bluegrass? She says, “I really missed hot food. We were in a bubble, all of our meals were brought to us so we never got anything that was good and warm. I cook supper for my family about five nights per week, so to be honest, I just wanted to cook supper for Shawn and my kids.”

Baking Impossible. Photo courtesy of Netflix

The brutality of reality TV may be second nature for a baker who always welcomes customer feedback. She says, “I feel like I can’t learn and grow if people don’t tell me.” She laughs that her friends and family “will always say nice things, but I want to know if someone isn’t happy. I asked for feedback from a lady and she let me have it. I cried about it for several days, but in the end she was right. Her feedback wasn’t mean per se, but she wasn’t happy and I did ask, so lesson learned. Just don’t ask.  Lol, I’m kidding!  But I’m human. I’m not perfect. While I try my best every single time, there will be times when I let someone down. And that’s hard. But, I overcame 4 million to 1 odds to get here, so keep on, keepin’ on.”

Baking Impossible premieres on Netflix on October 6. 


This article also appears on page 9 of the October 2021 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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