By Keith Lawrence
Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
When she was a little girl, Alisha Payton Hardison remembers, “I watched Julia Child’s cooking shows instead of cartoons.”
By the time she was 6, Hardison was in the kitchen of her family’s Central City home, helping her mother cook and bake.
“My mom was an awesome cook and baker,” she says. “She had me in the kitchen helping her when I was little.”
That set Hardison on a career path that led to the opening of Dalisha’s Desserts inside the Centre for Business & Research at 1010 Allen St. two years ago.
But the road from her mother’s kitchen to her own bakery-restaurant was hardly straight.
In 2003, Hardison received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and art education from Murray State University.
And she taught art for a year at Daviess County Middle School.
But the cooking bug had bitten her early.
Hardison decided to quit teaching and attend Sullivan University in Louisville, where she earned an associate degree in baking and pastry sciences in 2005, along with the certified pastry chef title.
In 2004, she won a cookie recipe contest for the “Emeril Live” television show on the Food Network.
Her Pumpkin Pinwheels recipe was selected from more than 4,000 entries.
Hardison was even flown to New York City to be on the show.
Business started in her kitchen
In 2007, she started Dalisha’s Desserts in the kitchen of her home in Landsdowne.
“I always wanted to have my own business,” Hardison said last week. “I started baking cakes at home. Most of my business came from Facebook and word of mouth. But I got too big for what I could do at home. I was turning away more business than I could take.”
In 2009, eMergingVentures, a Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. agency, had a contest for the best business plan by an emerging entrepreneur.