Enter Laura Marconi and Elyssa Clare Janos onto the list of dynamic mother-daughter duos. The pair are creating something delicious and have teamed up to open Bouche Gluten Free Bakery (11823 Detroit Ave., 216-904-5688, facebook.com/BoucheBakery) this November.
"It's funny, because I wasn't thinking about it when she was born, but her first name is Elyssa, with an 'E', and her middle name is 'Clare,'" (making her E. Clare). "It's like she was intended to be a baker," coos Marconi, recounting the anecdote as only a proud mother can do. Both women suffer from intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley and rye products that help foods retain their shape.
"A lot of it was digestive issues," says Janos, the head baker and co-owner of Bouche. "A lot of people have that sensitivity but they don't want to acknowledge it." Janos, who attended the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State for pastry arts, decided to take matters into her own hands when it came to their health, unwilling to compromise on taste or freshness.
"Ingredients are expensive for gluten-free items and if you want quality you have to pay for it," she explains. "But it was such a gamble when you bought something: It was either really awesome or just terrible, and we were tired of gambling. We wanted to play around with it for ourselves." She quickly perfected a recipe for pretzel bread that had her friends without dietary restrictions requesting more. Janos and her mother, a traditional Italian cook, adapted pasta recipes to fit their gluten-free lifestyle.
"The problem with most commercial kitchens or community kitchens that you can rent is that they are not totally gluten-free," Marconi, the proprietor behind the operation, explains. "Even places that advertise as gluten-free often are not because the products are made in kitchens that still use flour," adds Janos. "Cross-contamination can occur from flour in the air."
The pair searched the city to find a storefront with a kitchen before settling on this space in February. "We have people who are interested far and wide," says Marconi. "This shop is not going to just be for Lakewood, it's for all of Greater Cleveland. We didn't want to stray far from downtown; we wanted to be central so that everybody can partake."
Today, they've hung up their oven mitts for paintbrushes, coating a fiery red onto end tables strewn about the storefront that once housed Helvetica Juice Bar before it closed in 2014. An electrical upgrade will allow them to operate a newly purchased oven while utilizing kitchen appliances the previous proprietors left behind. The bakery will have a vintage vibe to match Janos' personal style. They recently purchased a 1930s-era cast iron stove to display in the window.
There will be no seating in the shop, just a large display counter and kitschy mint-green dressers repurposed to fill with scones, cupcakes and other decadent gourmet pastries. Gluten-free versions of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta salad and rotating side dishes also will be available.
It's hard to imagine a time when the charming team won't be the stars of the show. Instead, the tempting scent of fresh baked bread will take center stage, and the best part is that everybody can enjoy it. Bouche Bakery will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.