My name is Sherrita “Rita” Magalde. I was born in New York City and raised in North Carolina. As an African American woman from the South, people are often curious how a non-Greek woman of color built a thriving national baklava business based out of Utah of all places. The answer to this well-founded question will most likely surprise you; but, more importantly, it is my hope that the story of Sheer Ambrosia Bakery will inspire you to have the courage, strength, and resolve to reinvent yourself if and when life’s challenges call upon you to do so.
“Reinventing Rita” by Rediscovering My Love of Baking Baklava
In the middle of the 2003 holiday season, with a young son and another baby coming any minute, my husband told me what he wanted for Christmas: a divorce. The next several months took me through the depths of despair. As rough as it was, when I finally emerged, I knew what I had to do—pull myself together, take responsibility for my part in a marriage that didn’t work, and forgive both my ex-husband and myself. Believe it or not, I found a way to do all of that and more.
During my process of healing, I came across an amazing writer, world traveler, and unconventional change agent who posed the question: What can you offer the world that no one else can?
As I contemplated this question, I thought of my passions, which include cooking, traveling, foreign cultures, entrepreneurship, and, of course, my first love…baking. I remembered summer trips to New York as a kid to visit family and how I came to love other cultures and languages. While working at a Greek-owned restaurant in high school and college, my love for baking baklava blossomed. As these memories came flooding back, I realized…instead of focusing on the loss of my marriage, I needed to reinvent myself by following my decades-long passion of bringing joy and delight to people with the sweet taste of baklava because what I can offer is the best baklava the world will ever enjoy; and that’s exactly what we do here at Sheer Ambrosia Bakery.