Caralee was born and raised in south-central Montana. Her father, a hunter and fisherman, provided the family with wild game– the only meat served in the Blazina household. Her mother, a homemaker, saw to it that every meal was prepared from scratch. Canning was an annual summer event that required the help of Caralee and her two older brothers. Caralee realized early on that her passion was cooking and baking. Her mother can’t remember a time when Caralee wasn’t helping in the kitchen, making her own individual pies for the holidays, or cooking dinner every Wednesday evening. Caralee started her professional career as an assistant baker at a European bakery in Billings, Montana. There she learned how to form doughs and mix breads. Later she worked at a local restaurant as a saute chef, slinging pasta and making sauces to order.
There she learned the value of fresh and housemade products. In1999 Caralee moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to help open two restaurants. She stayed on as saute chef and part-time baker. Caralee returned to Montana in 2001 to pursue a career as a pastry chef. Her stint at a local restaurant taught her about writing menus and creating her own style. She ran specials every weekend which allowed her to create and experiment with many different recipes.
In 2002 Caralee made the move to Portland, Oregon, to work at Wildwood Restaurant. The first six months at Wildwood she spent as assistant baker–working with Jesse Dobson, a well-known baker. She learned a great deal about using organic flours, natural yeast and the old-world style of baking. She then served as assistant pastry chef to Gretchen Gilates–learning about pastries and the proper techniques of dessert making. In October of 2003 Caralee took on the challenge of head pastry chef for a new restaurant in east Vancouver–Roots Restaurant and Bar. Caralee has set the bar high at Roots. Her dessert selections change each month and follow the seasons–just as the menu does. Two days a week Caralee also works the line. The rest of the time she stays behind the scenes creating such masterpieces as seasonal fruit crisps and crumbles, the signature twice baked chocolate souffle, and her famous assorted cookies.