Spotlight on Mom Entrepreneur: Mary Capone, founder of Bella Gluten Free

Mary Capone, founder of Bella Gluten Free

Mary Capone, founder of Bella Gluten Free

Mary Capone wears many hats – a chef, a writer, a teacher, a business woman, and a mom. It’s impressive how much she has accomplished – from her mouth-watering Italian recipes to the gluten free products, to the thousands of students that love her cooking so much that many invested in her company. Gluten allergies are on the rise and an average person finds it hard to make tasty gluten free meals. Since 2009, searches for “gluten free recipes” on Yahoo! have more than doubled, and according to Yahoo! Clues data, 76% of the overall searches for “gluten free recipes” are coming from women this year. I am guessing a lot of women are dealing with the new kids’ allergies, since Yahoo! searches for “What is gluten?” are up seven-fold since 2009. Mary Capone values sharing the information with those who need to cook allergy-free. A celiac herself with two daughters who are also celiacs, cooking gluten free is more than her life’s passion – it’s her life. Italian recipes gluten free – now that’s inspiring!

How did your cooking career evolve over the years? When did you first pick up a knife?

Growing up in an Italian household, I was always in the kitchen: rolling gnocchi, making bread and pizza and stirring bubbling pots of sauce. I started out as a gourmet gluten-free baker in 2005 when gluten-free was still new on the scene. I also started teaching cooking classes, again featuring gluten-free and allergen-free cooking with a gourmet twist. I have since taught over 2000 students. My latest adventure is Bella Gluten-Free, a 100% allergen free dry mix company that makes it easy for people to have all the foods they thought they had to give up such as breads, pizza, rolls, pasta, cakes, cookies…you name it.

Do you feel that cooking gluten free is more challenging when it comes to creating flavors for your dishes?

Bella gluten freeOnce you get the hang of it, gluten-free cooking can be as flavorful as any cuisine. In fact, people who try food from my cookbook or from Bella Gluten-Free mixes love the taste, texture and flavor.

What have been the biggest successes and the biggest roadblocks over the course of your business process for Bella Gluten Free so far?

Branding Bella Gluten-Free in a time when many new products are hitting the market can be challenging. Once I do get an appointment with the buyers they love the product and bring it on. Our biggest success so far is our account with Kroger and King Soopers. We are a member of their Colorado Proud Team.

How much start up capital did it take to start your allergy-free product business?

Bella Gluten Free pizza doughIt is an on-going process. My current investors are all students of mine from The Wheat Free Gourmet Cooking School. They believe in the product and work we are doing together to bring about healthy, delicious, allergen-free mixes to market.

Do you feel that food regulations in the US are at a good point right now? If not, where would you see improvements?

There is still room for improvement when it comes to labeling gluten-free products. I’ve seen products such as flavor water with the GF label. The FDA is currently reviewing this process and we should see some clear guidelines in place soon. In the meantime, a third party certification on the product’s label is a good indication that the company is taking the issue of cross-contamination seriously. Bella Gluten-Free and The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook have both earned the CSA Seal of Approval.

You wrote the “The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook: Classic Cuisine from the Italian Countryside”. How hard is it to cook Italian and gluten free?

gluten free cookbookGrowing up in an Italian household filled with restaurateurs and great cooks, I learned the foundations of classic Italian cuisine from my family’s boisterous kitchens. As a celiac, I simply reinvented this scrumptious cuisine to meet the needs of gluten-free dieters.

How did you approach reinventing Italian recipes for celiacs? Did you use any common substitutions? Did you omit anything?

I developed a gluten-free mix that works perfectly for a cup-for-cup substitution for flour in many of the recipes. Other recipes require more finesse such as the bread and pizza dough recipes. I created individual arrangements of flours for these. Some of the common things I used to create the correct consistency are eggs, xanthan gum, and the correct mixture of rice flours and starches.

Which recipe do you love the most?

My Aunt Carmel Homemade Pasta recipe. This pasta is light, easy to make and delicious. I remember watching my Aunt roll out pasta dough with a rolling pin and cutting it with a knife in perfect forms. My Aunt Carmel would make homemade pasta on a big wooden board with a pile of flour, an egg or two and dash of oil and water. I recreated this recipe using my rice flour gluten-free baking mix instead of flour and experimented for a while to find just the right amount of moisture to add. It took me a while to convert this one but I finally got it right.

If you pick – teaching cooking, writing cookbooks, running a food business – which one is most fulfilling?

All three are fun for me and work perfectly together. I am about sharing information to the allergen-free community that needs it.

Who or what inspires you as a chef and as an entrepreneur?

mary caponeAgain I would have to say my Italian relatives, my grandfather Levo who was a famous restaurateur, and my father and aunt who were excellent kitchen chefs.

Do your kids participate in your work?

I have two daughters who are both celiacs. They have both helped me in my cooking school, and Bella Gluten-Free product demos. They are informed and armed with recipes galore.

If I asked her, what kind of mom you are, what would she say?

Obsessed with food or in other words, a typical Italian mom.

What advice do you have for other moms who want to start their own business? What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

Make a strong and clear business plan and stick to it. You will get there.

What are your best selling products and where can our visitors buy them?

All four of our Bella Gluten-Free Products are selling well. The All Purpose Baking Mix is a cup for cup substitution for any recipe. The Multigrain Sandwich Bread Mix brings real healthy bread back to the table. The Pizza Roll Focaccia Mix is so versatile, it makes pizzas, dinner or hamburger rolls, focaccia and even baguettes. Finally, the Cinnamon Raisin Bread is a great breakfast bread that’s scrumptious and a definite treat. Customers in Colorado can find us at 40 King Soopers and City Markets throughout the state. Outside of Colorado we are available on Amazon and www.bellaglutenfree.com.

Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook: More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes from the Gluten-Free Chef
Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook: More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes from the Gluten-Free Chef
Price: $10.95
Gluten free doesn’t have to mean taste free, and chef Robert Landolphi proves it with his new work, “Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook.” Landolphi is the up and coming gluten-free cookbook author. His dishes aren’t just delicious, they’re also quick and easy, and take living without wheat from endurable to enjoyable. It’s lots of flavor without the fuss. This cookbook includes more than 100 recipes for contemporary dishes ranging from main courses and sides, to soups and chowders, biscuits and muffins, pies and puddings, and cookies and sweetbars. * “Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook” is one of only a few gluten-free cookbooks written and developed by a professional chef. * This cookbook provides a fresh and progressive voice for gluten-free living.
The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian, and Mexican Recipes
The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian, and Mexican Recipes
Price: $12.86
The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian, and Mexican Recipes

The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet
The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet
Price: $12.71
The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet

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