Clarke competes for Favorite Chef

Published 3:11 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Makenzie Clarke is a Lowndes County teen with a flair for baking. After launching her business, Kenzie’s Kreations, in the fall of 2023, the 14-year-old Burkeville native has gained wide-spread attention and the chance to compete in Carla Hall’s Favorite Chef contest.

Clarke, who loves to cook dinner for her family as well as she enjoys creating sweet treats, credits her popularity to her close, small-town community.

“We live in a small town,” Clarke said. “Everyone knows me. They know I bake, and they know that I love it. They would rather support a small business than a huge business.”

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The Lowndes Academy student discovered her love for baking while making family Christmas cookies with her grandmother, Maralee Clarke. 

“What got me baking was creating sugar cookies every year for Christmas,” she said. “They, we would take them to fire and police stations, and I loved it. Then one year I decided to make my birthday cake and I just fell in love with baking.”

From there, her efforts took off and as word spread, classmates at Lowndes Academy stepped up to help her exhibit her wares at the 52nd Annual Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair April 12-13.

“My art teacher (Lana Pouncey) told me one day at school that they wanted me to go to Calico Fort,” Clarke said. “She is on the board there. So, she invited me and the art club at school actually paid for my booth.”

In addition to making nightly dinners for her family, Clarke has dabbled in selling pre-made frozen meals, which she delivers to customers who are close by.

Clarke entered the Favorite Chef competition and at press time was runner-up in her category. Voting ends May 30 after which she will learn if she advances to the next round. The grand prize winner will take home $25,000, an appearance on the cover of “Taste of Home” and an opportunity to cook with celebrity chef Hall.

“My kitchen at home is small,” Clarke said. “We don’t really have any room. [As the winner] I would probably invest in buying a small building or something to store all the ingredients and utensils I use to bake.  And I’ll probably bake in there.”

After high school, Clarke hopes to open her own store-front business in Lowndes County. But, for now, she will spend the supper selling her wares online and working at Lowndes Academy’s Camp 45.

St. Clair resident Shirley McNamee has watched her granddaughter grow in skill and deepen her love for baking through the years.

“She has always been one that wanted to help with anything in the kitchen,” McNamee said. “She does other things than just baking, but baking is what she loves. She has given up all of her sports and concentrates on her business.”

To learn more, follow Kenzie’s Kreations on social media.