Yahshimabet Selassie, 12, was the first runner-up in the Food Network's Kids Baking Championship this spring, making it to the eighth and final round of the baking contest with her two-tier mocha chocolate/chai spice concoction.
Selassie, a student at Park Day School in Oakland, California, won a spot on the show after submitting her signature lemon grass raspberry cake. "I tried lemon grass-flavored ice cream when I was younger, and it became one of my favorite flavors," said Selassie, adding that lemon grass is known as "fever grass" in her father's native Jamaica, where it is used as an herbal remedy for coughs and colds.
Although she narrowly missed winning the $25,000 first prize for the Kids Baking Championship, Selassie's mother, Tsadae Neway, said her daughter's success on the show has inspired her and piqued the interest of the community in her story and, of course, her sweet confections.
"Yashimabet has started her own baking business, Yahshi Bakes, and is working very hard, but she loves baking and finds it relaxing," said Neway.
"I'm so booked up that people have to order one or two months in advance," said Selassie, who even gets orders from out of state. "But with school and homework, it's hard to fit everything in."
Selassie spreads the word about her baked goods through "pop-up" sales at local stores.
"It's a lot of effort to make all that when I don't have much time," said the young baker, who puts her own spin on traditional recipes. "I take a simple recipe and add my own ingredients to make it original. I really like that creative side of baking."