• Michelle Kalan: A Sweet Life in Mitchell

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    Written by: Alex Heidinger, Chamber Director
    Interview by: Doreen Nelson, Community Concierge
    Editor’s Note: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members’ stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Doreen Nelson at 996-1140 or doreen@mitchellsd.com.
    In the heart of Mitchell, Michelle and Blake Kalan are building a life that is as sweet as the desserts they serve. With their daughter due in July, three dogs named Lily, Luna, and Moody, and three cats named Fred, Winky, and Lupin, the Kalans’ household is bustling and vibrant. Their love for Harry Potter is evident in the whimsical names of their pets.

    Michelle and Blake’s journey together began in Charleston, SC, where Michelle was attending culinary school and Blake was a cadet at The Citadel. Although Michelle is a Mitchell native, Blake originally hails from Virginia. The couple moved to Mitchell during the Covid-19 pandemic, seeking a fresh start and to be closer to Michelle’s family.

    For Michelle, returning to Mitchell felt like coming home. Having grown up here, she always viewed it as a place of comfort. Blake, accustomed to the hustle and bustle of larger cities, quickly fell in love with Mitchell’s quiet and serene atmosphere. Michelle was surprised by how different Mitchell felt as an adult compared to her childhood, which deepened her appreciation for the town.
    Living in Mitchell offers the Kalans many advantages. The proximity to family provides a robust support system, and the convenience of having everything within a ten-minute drive is a significant perk. However, the couple’s busy work schedule means they are often homebodies, enjoying time with their pets and family when not working.

    Community engagement has been limited due to their demanding schedules, but their bakery, Michelle’s Mad Batter, has become a focal point for connection. Through pop-up events and regular customer interactions, the Kalans have built strong relationships with the local community. Their love for Mitchell is reflected in their enjoyment of local favorites like The Depot, Scoreboard, and The Back 40.

    Blake’s hobbies include hunting and fishing, while Michelle’s passion for baking extends beyond her professional life. Though their business keeps them busy, they are always open to exploring new hobbies when time permits.

    Michelle’s Mad Batter is a testament to Michelle’s dream of owning a bakery. When the Kalans moved back to Mitchell during the pandemic, Michelle was uncertain about her career path. With the support of her parents, Deanna and Jay Wempe, the bakery became a reality. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed; the bakery has won several “Best of Mitchell” awards since 2022.

    The Kalans’ favorite places in Mitchell include their own bakery, The Depot, and Cabela’s—a favorite spot for Blake. For visitors to Mitchell, a must-see attraction is the Corn Palace, a unique and iconic landmark.

    For those considering a move to Mitchell, the Kalans offer simple advice: if you love the small-town feel, Mitchell is the place to be. The community is welcoming, relationships are meaningful, and there is a sense of togetherness that is hard to find elsewhere. The Kalans also emphasize the importance of continued growth and expansion within the community.

    As a final note, the Kalans live by the motto: “Life is short, eat dessert first.” This philosophy not only reflects their professional life but also serves as a reminder to cherish the sweet moments in their beloved town of Mitchell.
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