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Meet Roanna Canete of Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry in Clairemont

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roanna Canete.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When my toddler son was diagnosed with a wheat and egg allergy, I was suddenly introduced to the gluten-free world (which I knew nothing about.) Many gluten-free items rely on eggs for their texture, so finding things that he could eat was next to impossible. I took it upon myself to learn how to bake gluten + egg free. It was a long road, fraught with many gummy, dense recipe fails, but eventually, I got the hang of it. Soon friends were asking for me to make their birthday cakes and I decided to go back to school for an MBA in Entrepreneurship.

Upon its completion, I spent a year creating recipes and then opened a little bakery with a Cottage Food Class B license in my house. This license allowed me to wholesale products. Eventually, I had enough wholesale customers to open a brick and mortar, and I purchased Euro Pastry, an existing wholesale bakery. I went from 100 sq feet to 2400 sq feet overnight. I have no formal kitchen training, and I relied on the staff to help me through the steep learning curve in those first few months. The walk-in freezer alone was as big as my home kitchen.

The next obstacle was that the bakery was not gluten-free. I converted every recipe, asking for collaboration from our clients. Little by little, the entire recipe book was converted to gluten-free, and every client chose to stay with us through that transition! Strategizing the cleaning process was difficult, as gluten hides in every crevice and just one crumb will make a celiac ill. Thanks to some advice from Jaime, owner of Starry Lane Bakery (another dedicated gluten-free bakery), it went successfully although it took well more than 25 hours and alot of bleach!

Today, we have more than 33 partners across San Diego and a vast menu of gluten free, dairy free and vegan offerings. We are proud to support the eateries who care about their diners with food restrictions and offer them many choices.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. Gluten-free is a difficult industry with a high failure rate. The cost of safe ingredients is high, making the product pricey for the consumer. Most gluten-free people know this already (and they budget accordingly), but often eating establishments do not, and this can be a cause of frustration to us. We are contacted frequently by individuals begging “Please sell your pastries at such-and-such shop as there is nothing safe that I can eat there.” But it takes more than us approaching an establishment. The establishment themselves must see the need for gluten-free products. Statistics show that 30% of diners would eat gluten-free if given a choice.

Another struggle is recipe development. It takes a long time! When we first bought Euro Pastry, every recipe they had contained gluten. There were so many recipes to convert to gluten free–it took about four months to accomplish that. Some recipes are simple, but some needed several trials to get it right. We pride ourselves on stellar taste, texture, and appearance. A recipe must accomplish all 3 of those aspects or its back to square one! There is no one size fits all with a gluten-free flour blend. Each of our products has a unique blend to accomplish amazing taste texture and appearance.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
At Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry, we specialize in wholesale distribution of bread, pastries, desserts, and dry mixes for local eateries and hotels. Additionally, we provide recipe consultation services for chefs looking to expand their allergen-friendly menus. We are known for the phenomenal taste, texture, and appearance of our gluten-free products, from luxury wedding cakes to coffee-shop donuts. We are proud to make our local city a safe place to eat for individuals with food restrictions. People trust us to make their occasions not only special but safe. Our clients are often marginalized by the food industry, being told “you’re difficult” or being offered only a salad or a piece of meat, instead of a complete meal. We are here to support the food industry in their ability to include all diners. We provide free staff training with our products, as well as menu choices that can include dairy-free or vegan options. We are trusted by our clients to provide safe, nourishing food, and we take that very seriously.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
I love the diversity that San Diego has to offer, especially in the food scene.  You can have the most authentic sushi, tacos and ramen bowls all within the same city. But within this diversity, I am frequently disappointed at the lack of education regarding food allergies in our city. (I am personally gluten free) I have been assured that “low sodium” soy sauce was definitely gluten-free (it’s not, it’s just low sodium). I have been told that my salad is gluten-free, only for it to arrive with both croutons and a slice of bread on top (neither of which was gluten-free).

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Roanna Canete
Headshot by Colin Leibold

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