Miss California USA 2014 visits Leelin’s

Cassie Kunze, Miss California USA 2014, with Menard Leelin (left) and Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido.  Photo by Dante Ochoa

Cassie Kunze, Miss California USA 2014, with Menard Leelin (left) and Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido. Photo by Dante Ochoa

By Dante Ochoa

On May 9, Miss California USA 2014 went up close and personal at a center of the Filipino American community in Cerritos, in pursuit of her recently discovered fondness for the taste of raisin bread.

Turns out that Cassandra “Cassie” Kunze, who is the reigning Miss California USA 2014, got a taste of the raisin bread given to her by pageant jeweler Peter Young during one of the breaks in a recent pageant activity. She developed instant liking for it, eventually sought out its source which turned out to be a bakery and cafe in Cerritos.

“I got a taste of this really good raisin bread during the pageant and I just really looove its taste so much right away , I could not have enough of it after Peter (Wong) gave some to me during rest time,” revealed Miss California USA upon being asked about her being a raisin bread fan. After winning the crown, going to Cerritos became an obvious stop for the reigning beauty queen and of course her beloved bakery and cafe.

“We’re just delighted that a Miss California USA went out of her way to find us and follow her taste,” said Menard Leelin, the founder-owner of Leelin Bakery and Cafe, the subject of a beauty queen’s gustatory search for that special loaf bread. “And no, she does not have Filipino blood in her and that’s not the reason why she’s here,” he added in answer to the inevitable question: Is she a little bit Filipina?

Miss California USA 2014, true to form impressed an assortment of local media (meaning the Fil-Am media although newsman Rico Dizon of Cerritos’ Community News, a “mainstream” newspaper rolled in on a last minute call), with her looks befitting a beauty queen. Not to mention admiring glances from among the bakery’s customers and onlookers who were noticeably struck by Cassie’s charms and for news types, her wit. She represented the city of Beverly Hills in the California-wide beauty contest and won over 109 aspirants. The contest made Ms. Kunze the California representative to the Donald Trump-owned Miss USA 2014 beauty pageant later this year.

Cassie is presently an undergrad at San Diego State University on a double major; and this does not help in her preparations. Asked how one prepares for the Miss USA title competitions, she said it is NOT easy.

“It can really get hectic with all the calendar of commitments to Miss California USA organization and I have to attend to the demands being the reigning Miss California USA, sometimes in between classes, really, ” said Miss Kunze.

“I have a personal trainer who works with me with my physical training and conditioning and at present I have three former Miss California USA who are helping prepare me for the pageant competitions itself,” she added.

“Learning how to handle interviews is a major part of training and requires a lot of focus and intelligence and will take a great deal of commitment as is required for all aspects of the beauty pageant,” said Kunze.

Asked of her vision of what a successful reign as Miss California USA, Cassie said: “I wish to be able to show that the reigning queen should be involved in her surroundings, making contributions to the betterment of the unfortunate around her. I am proud of my participation early this year in the fundraising for the benefit of a kid suffering from Down Syndrome with an organization that takes care of afflicted children. In the course of my year as Miss California USA, I will have done more. That is my vision.”

Cerritos Mayor Mark S. Pulido was on hand to greet Ms. Kunze and company. Mayor Pulido also announced the official city of Cerritos Philippine Independence Day celebration on June 14. “A first, for Cerritos,” he declared.

After the question and answers session with the local media, came the mandatory photo ops. The Leelin Bakery and Cafe family led by Mr. and Mrs. Menard Leelin, Marisse Abelgas, Leelin community relations manager, posed for pictures with the Miss California USA 2014 and pageant director Pam Wilson.

Well, whatever happens at the Miss USA 2014, Cassie Kunze will undoubtedly have the support of the Filipino Americans in California, especially those from Cerritos who have experienced her charming ways: “I will always be the same Cassie. I just happened to be wearing this sash today,” she reassured a listener.

Things are looking up for California Raisin Loaf Bread.

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