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Capone is cooking up clean cuisines


December 25, 2019

Tim Benko

Chef Mary Capone is cooking up clean, allergen friendly recipes in her hands on culinary classes offered at her home in Gunbarrel.

For Gunbarrel's Mary Capone, food has always played a central role and much of her life has revolved around the heart of the home - the kitchen. The renditions of Capone have included starting a creperie in downtown Boulder, being a cookbook author, writing gastronomic columns for magazines, owning a food manufacturing business and offering hands-on cooking classes.

"My grandfather was a pretty famous restaurateur and had several Italian restaurants in our hometown," Capone said. "The rest was just home cooking and the recipes were incredible...you know, learning how to make homemade pasta in my aunt's kitchen. I learned how to make all of these wonderful foods from my family's boisterous kitchen."

Capone grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., graduated from Siena College in Albany with a degree in business and English and, in 1980, she joined her sister, who lived in Boulder. She attended graduate school at CU-Boulder, and while participating in an internship, helped to start Play Fair Toys, a non-sexist, non-violent toy store. After spending a year exploring Europe with her husband, photographer Tim Benko, she returned to the idea of being an entrepreneur and combined it with her love of cuisines.

Her first venture was Marie's Crepes, a kitchen-trailer on the Pearl Street Mall, which she ran for two years until she became pregnant with the first of the couple's two daughters. In 2003, she discovered the distressing health issues she'd been suffering were as a result of celiac disease.

"Italians are one of the biggest populations with the highest rates of celiac disease," Capone said. She was able to determine that many of her ancestors also had celiac, and her daughters did as well.

Capone made it her mission to continue to enjoy the food she'd always loved, but with ingredients that wouldn't make her sick. After a couple of years of exploration, she started The Wheat Free Gourmet School, where she taught more than 5,000 students how to prepare the gluten-free, allergen friendly dishes she'd perfected.

In 2008, Capone took the family recipes she'd converted and created "The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook," the first cookbook on the market that was devoted strictly to that fare.

She's also one of four authors of "The Best Gluten-Free Recipes." For 12 years, Capone also created allergen-free recipes and wrote articles for national food magazines such as Living Without's "Gluten-Free & More."

"I decided it was time to really pay attention to what was happening in the market. I knew had really great mixes, flours and blends that were all gluten and allergen-free, and I wanted to throw my hat in the ring while it was starting to become more popular," Capone said.

That's why in 2010, Capone founded Bella Gluten-Free, a company manufacturing retail gluten-free products for everyone's kitchen. Bella Gluten-Free offers rolls, pizza crust, scones, and dessert mixes made with only organic and natural ingredients. She sourced whole grain nutritional ingredients in their native state as opposed to modified products found in other gluten-free products on store shelves. Capone operated that business bringing it to more than 1,200 distributions points until selling her share to partners last year.

Now, after having fed people well and having sold products for people to feed themselves, and using the written word to educate and inspire cooks at home, she's wielding her culinary creativity and expertise again doing real-time teaching.

Capone's classes focus on allergen friendly, clean foods with Guilty Gluten Free, a culinary school in her Gunbarrel home.

"It's all about feeding your body well," Capone said. It will appeal to a wide audience, while still being inclusive of those who need allergen-free nutrition. It means that anyone with ingredient sensitivities and those who have no dietary restrictions will be taught how to prepare delicious recipes.

Capone is teaching three or four classes each month, with tantalizing menus that include crepe pasta for lasagna, French sauces, artisan bread, pot pies, and soups. Holiday cake baking, Mexican and Pan-Asian cuisine classes are also on the calendar.

The cost for each three-hour class begins at $85 per person, which includes snacks and a take home recipe book. Students also enjoy the meal they've prepared and may bring wine or beer to further enhance their learning time.

Her newest business venture is Corporate Bites a culinary team building experience with some friendly competition as part of each session's activities. Capone is also a personal chef, curating meals for individuals and families and delivering food to their homes.

Gift certificates are a great option for holiday gifts. Capone's website is GuiltyGlutenFree.Weebly.com and she can be reached at 303-817-0050. Her cookbook, "The Gluten Free Italian Cookbook" is available on Amazon.com.


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