Twin sisters and restaurant owners Alisha Nuttall and Angela Wilson are two sides of the same coin — one likes whimsy, one likes boldness. One owns a bakery, one owns a bistro. But the Pleasant Grove pair combined forces to win “Cupcake Wars,” even though their attempt at a pizza cupcake cut them out of their first shot at the title.
Angie: Alisha and I were opposites growing up — Alisha was a cheerleader, and I was on the drill team. But we have both always loved food. We had food jobs through high school, working at Subway and Burger King.
Alisha: My love of baking started in my home economics class. I liked working with doughs, making cinnamon rolls, pretzels, bread and basic brownies. Then after we graduated high school I got a job at Chili’s, and Angie worked at Outback.
Angie: I baked a cake for coworkers, and a top-level Outback Steakhouse exec tasted it and said, “You should do cupcakes!”
Alisha: Angie came to me with this idea, so we came up with a name — Cravings – Alisha and Angie’s Cupcakes — but then Angie moved to California, so I made it Cravings – Alisha’s Cupcakes. I baked at home and my business spread by word of mouth. I wanted to have a store front, but my husband was wary of the idea. He’s a pilot, not an entrepreneur. Then Angie came home from California.
Angie: I discovered I want to be my own boss, but I didn’t want to do baking. Alisha can have fun baking at home with her kids, but I’m single and can’t stand being at home. Alisha gave me the idea to open a restaurant specializing in grilled cheeses.
Alisha: I tried selling my cupcakes at Angie’s restaurant, but we’re both control freaks. If I didn’t like the way she arranged my cupcakes, I would tell her. But it was her shop and she had the right display them however she wanted. I started selling my cupcakes at a boutique and movie theater. A few of my friends started telling me about “Cupcake Wars” on Food Network. In 2012 I emailed in two sentences about myself and my identical twin. One audition video later, we were invited to the show — and we bombed.
Angie: We got cut the first round for our attempt at a pizza cupcake, with ingredients like pepperoni and jalapeños. It was hard to see Alisha so devastated.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to go. On top of being pregnant, I had barely opened my restaurant and didn’t want to leave. But I had good employees who made it possible for me to be Alisha’s assistant on ‘Cupcake Wars’ again.” —Angie Wilson
Alisha: I’m embarrassed to say that it was one of the most depressing times of my life. It was heartbreaking and it made me doubt myself. Angie and I had decided that we would never do it again. But a year later, Food Network asked us back for a special “Redemption” episode.
Angie: I didn’t know if I wanted to go. On top of being pregnant, I had barely opened my restaurant and didn’t want to leave. But I had good employees who made it possible for me to be Alisha’s assistant on “Cupcake Wars” again.
Alisha: We practiced a lot for this round. Contestants aren’t allowed to bring recipes, so I memorized my go-to cupcake recipes. Before we went, I asked my husband, “If I win, can you promise me we can have a storefront?” He said yes, but I don’t think he thought we would actually win. The other three teams were eliminated one by one, and we were the only team left standing. We probably looked like spazzes when they announced that we won. Then it all settled in and I realized we needed to open a storefront before the episode aired. We opened Cravings – Alisha’s Cupcakes in November 2013 and the episode aired in March 2014.
Angie: After Alisha opened her cupcake shop in Pleasant Grove, I moved my restaurant from American Fork to Pleasant Grove. Now we’re literally down the block from each other.
Alisha: We were asked back to “Cupcake Wars” a third time for a fan favorite episode. I had just opened my store but we decided to do it anyway. Our friends, family and customers voted us onto the episode, but we were cut after the first round. Winning and losing have both given us great publicity.
Angie: We promote each other’s businesses and embrace our differences. Alisha’s cupcake shop is whimsical and makes people feel like they’re in Disneyland, and my Cravings Bistro has big bold colors. We both get to make customers happy.
This is one of five stories in Utah Valley Magazine’s “How I Did It” section in the September/October issue of the magazine.