Roanna Canete, who is gluten intolerant and owner of Gluten Free Baking Company, never thought she would be on a cooking show since gluten free baking is not mainstream. On Nov. 29 Netflix will release the holiday season new episodes of Sugar Rush with Canete as one of the contestants with cake designer Lisa Altfest.
Canete’s baking company was inspired by the discovery of her son’s gluten allergy and subsequently her own gluten intolerance. The business she started out of her house was originally called Coronado Gluten Free Pantry. As the business grew Canete started baking out of a commercial kitchen and recently changed the name to Gluten Free Baking Company.
Canete and Altfest met at a gluten free expo a few years ago. “I asked her for advice because she is very good at decorating cakes. We became friends. She lives in Orange County. When the show asked her to be part of Sugar Rush and pick a co-competitor she called me,” explained Canete.
Altfest, who is an amazing decorator, found out she had Celiac disease while she was attending pastry school. Altfest sometimes commutes to San Diego to work with Canete whenever the bakery gets a sculpted or custom cake order. “We all very much enjoy the company in the bakery. Eventually, she plans to move to San Diego and work with us full time,” said Canete.
Altfest was chosen for the show after the Sugar Rush staff looked at her Instagram account. Altfest has worked for Food Network Chef Jeffrey Adam “Duff” Goldman, who had one of the first cooking show on TV. He owns Charm City Cakes in the Baltimore area and Charm City Cakes West in L.A.
Canete and Altfest as gluten free individuals competed against teams who were not gluten free. That did not impact the competition since Canete has perfected her recipes and ingredients over the years where one cannot taste the difference.
“I always dreamed of being on one of these shows, but I didn’t think I could. I’m good at cooking but not decorating. But Lisa is good at decorating and not good at cooking,” she said. That made the perfect match because the two friends complemented each others’ skills. “We were amazing. We really clicked. We knew what each other was thinking [during the competition],” she explained.
The competitors knew ahead of time what they had to bake for each round: a cupcake, a pastry and a cake.
“We knew going in what we were supposed to do. We talked about ideas and flavors and as we were brainstorming; we worked well together,” Canete said. “Some stuff we thought of ahead of time but ended up brainstorming on a pad of paper and Lisa and I realized we worked well together and were able to execute [what we thought of].”
Although the teams were somewhat prepared as to what they were making the decorations were chosen by the guest judge on the show Amirah Kaseen owner of Flour Shop in New York City.
Canete is really proud of the fact that by being on the show she represented all the gluten free people. “They have never seen anyone like us on TV. We want to inspire people like my clients who didn’t feel represented. There is a stigma that gluten free doesn’t taste good. The judges loved everything we made for flavors, textures and appearance,” she explained.
The taping of Sugar Rush was done over three days in Burbank at a giant warehouse with interviews one day, filming of the competition on the next and wrap up on the last day.
Four teams were part of the episode and Canete and each team had at least one professional baker. “We knew going in they were stiff competitors,” she said. Although we can’t reveal results until the show airs, Canete and Altfest were noticed by the judges.
Canete certainly found out how different it is when you are a competitor versus watching the show on TV. “We were surprised. On TV it looks like you are close together, but [in reality] you can’t see each other and what you are doing is focusing on your team and what you are doing. The clock always counts down. You are competing against the clock. We had three hours for the cupcake and pastry and if you finish early you can add that time to the cake round. You are trying hard to be as fast as you can and not make mistakes. The kitchen is beautiful with amazing equipment,” she added.
Despite the great equipment, the challenge was to find what she was looking for since she was not familiar with the kitchen. “In my kitchen I grab this and grab that. There, we had a few minutes to look around and get started. It’s a way of leveling the playing field. Everyone was having the same experience,” said Canete.
During the show, although it was a challenging experience, Canete had a feel of excitement with all the running around. “You have a lot of cameras on you. It’s such a positive experience,” she said of the show which was filmed in January of 2019.
Canete and Altfest dressed as elves and wore a green ribbon pin on their suspenders for Celiac Awareness and green headbands.
Is Canete going to watch the show as soon as it airs? “Because I own a bakery and have to be work at 6 a.m. I’ll bake first, then we are all going to sit down and watch it while the things are baking. Lisa, who has family in San Diego, will come down and we’ll watch it together,” she said.
For more information log on www.TheGFBakingCo.com and on Instagram @The GFBakingCo.