NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — For Martha Gilreath, cooking gives her confidence, the kind of confidence she needs to make her king cakes and, as WGNO Good Morning New Orleans features reporter Bill Wood discovered, to make it through the day.

With her Mardi Gras team, Gilreath is in the kitchen at NOCHI, the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, where she bakes king cakes, the time-honored local delicacy. It’s also where she graduated as valedictorian. She now leads her own baker, Nolita.

However, Gilreath’s menu was not always so sweet. For eight years, she was homeless, once living under the Crescent City Bridge. Hooked on drugs and estranged from her family, it was in rehab where Gilreath discovered her love of baking, the thing she said saved her life.

She’ll never forget her old address or her old neighbors from under the bridge.

Every king cake has a story. It’s one-of-a-kind, just like no other. Just the like journey of the baker behind it.

If you’d like one of her king cakes, just click right here.