Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry ... Food As Good As It Looks - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry ... Food As Good As It Looks

by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan | Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019 5:42 pm

Imagine not being able to eat cake at your birthday party or even take a bite of your wedding cake for fear of being sick. For those who suffer from allergies eating can be complicated. But as years have gone by and more gluten free options have become available, those suffering from Celiac disease and those who chose to go gluten free as a health choice have had more choices available that are not dry and tasteless.

Roanna Canete founder and baker of Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry has been experimenting with different flours and recipes until there is virtually no difference in taste with products made with wheat.

Years ago one of Canete’s son was diagnosed with Celiac disease and an allergy to eggs when he was 3 years old. Canete was at a loss. She and her family were living in Rome at the time and through her research into grains she became interested in food, which resulted in Canete attending a one month course at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, where she studied cake decorating, chocolate and gelato making. Armed with her knowledge Canete kept trying to make her breads and pastries flavorful and with the right texture until she got it right and her baked goods were delicious. After Canete moved to Coronado where her Navy husband works, she opened a home based business in 2015 called Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry.

She started selling her products through a Community Bakery Box filled with items like bagels, crackers, Belgian fudge brownies and Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Canete also created dairy free and vegan products and in time beautiful and tasty wedding cakes through her Coronado Cake line.

Once her business began to expand she found her kitchen became too small. She worked out of one commercial kitchen that had previously produced pastries called Euro Pastry but it was not gluten free and it took a long time to clean it.

She also warned Euro Pastry’s customers about what was coming. “I went to all the clients of Euro Pastry and told them in six months everything would be gluten free,” she recalled. Those clients gave Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry a try, and some didn’t even bother to look for a regular bakery and continued to buy the products just from her. As Canete’s business continued to grow she bought a 2,400 sq. ft. kitchen in Clairemont which is now her production kitchen.

One of her first commercial accounts in the early days was Big City Bagels in Hillcrest. Canete created a gluten free New York style bagel for the store that tasted exactly like a regular one. After customers ate the bagels, they did not believe they had just eaten a gluten free product and wanted their money back. That makes Canete happy. It is a usual occurrence for her to hear that. That’s not just with bagels but with any of her products including wedding cakes.

“In the American culture, food allergies can be isolating,” she said.

Canete and her team now strive for perfection. “Taste, texture and appearance. For us, all three have to be perfect. We have had advice. We’ve called food scientists. We don’t put preservatives, we can’t put chemicals to make them do what you want,” she explained of her products.

Canete has hired an excellent team. “If there is a problem in the kitchen it’s a team effort,” she said. She now has seven people working for her - a long way from the time she just had one helper in her kitchen.

“I remember when my son was diagnosed with allergies he was 3 years old and he was a picky eater, all the foods he was eating were making him sick. I called a friend whose daughter had Celiac disease she told me ‘You’re going to find a way,’” Canete recalls her saying.

Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry has developed cakes that work for kids. “I’ve had a mom who cried and said her son had never had cake and he was 4 years old and allergic to eggs and dye. We’ve come up with a cake that is perfect for kids,” said Canete.

Another client told her, “If there is a drop of milk in this cake I’m going to throw up,” she recalled. “[Our clients] know they are putting their health in our hands, we talk to them about the process and collaborate with every cake.”

Canete’s cakes are not only beautiful but very tasty. She showed a picture of a 9-layer champagne cake with strawberry filling with intricate details and flowers. Canete said guests at that wedding texted her to tell her they had never eaten a cake that was so good. Canete has found many brides that once they taste the cake they decide to stay with gluten free cake for everyone, rather than ordering a separate one. Because it tastes so delicious guests won’t be able to tell the difference.

These days with all the help Canete spends more time taking care of the administrative end of the business like answering emails and setting up cake tastings, but she can still be found in the kitchen. Recently Chef Annabel Cohen who works at Chateau Marmont in L.A. and done many Oscar parties is working with Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry for five months. “I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve never been before. [Annabel] knows how to run a big kitchen. She is helping me put a system in place that works. My freezer is so big I can fit my entire kitchen in it,” she said.

“One of the things I wish is to see more gluten free people on TV. There are a lot of kids who want to be like one of those chefs on TV but they say ‘I’m not like them,’” she said.

Customers have contacted her when visiting the area to find out where to find the gluten free products she makes that are sold at local coffeeshops. Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry trains the businesses that sell their products to be able to inform their customers. “We offer free training with all of our products. We like to support people taking care of clients,” she said.

“We work with 35 partners,” she said of her commercial clients. Some of them include Communal Coffee and the New Intercontinental Hotel. Canete helped develop Donovan’s Steakhouse’s version of gluten free cheesecake. Another of her clients is a kiosk called Elegant Desserts at Gate 40 at the San Diego Airport.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake is the most popular seller for the business. Coronado resident Wendy McGuire loves it and serves it at her holiday gatherings. “People don’t even know it’s gluten free and it’s always the first one gone, even before the pies,” she said.

“It’s a business but helping people, is the goal… helping people have safe products to eat,” said Canete. Her ingredients are sourced from gluten free farms certified by the Agricultural Association.

Canete has a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and worked as a leadership consultant. She also holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the Swiss School in Rome.

She grew up on a cattle farm in Utah and was not a baker before she embarked into her journey of making food her son could eat, but she says like any cowgirl, she made good sourdough biscuits. “I’m always up for a challenge. I have a high tolerance for failure. We always taste our failures and never make assumptions. An honest mistake can lead to an important discovery and we are all proud of when that happens,” she explained.

Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry works with clients with a variety of food allergies and locally Café 1134 carries vegan donuts, gluten free bagels, dairy free coffeecake, as well as cookies and cupcakes.

“We are committed to offering specialty products for our customers who have voiced their needs,” said Kristin Weygandt, co-owner of Café 1134.

“I want to reach a point when we can open a school. We are looking into [offering] a cake decorating class - we have had so many requests,” said Canete.

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