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Meet The Chefs

Meet the Chef: Ana Vargas from Canela

(Or…How to take care of your craving for Conchas.)

We are pleased to welcome Ana Vargas, the owner of Canela, to Food Innovation Network this spring. Baking and sharing her authentic Mexican pastries with her family, community, and now to the public through her business is brings joy into Ana’s life: “I like to think of the flavors I enjoyed as a kid and as an adult, what can I pull inspiration from, what has brought a big smile to my face and my heart; that’s usually how I can gather new ideas for dishes.”

Ana decided to start Canela when she moved to an area with few accessible Mexican bakeries or baked treats nearby. “I have always loved baking, bread, cakes, desserts and I decided why not try to bake fresh conchitas for my family and so the adventure began. Next thing you know, I was sharing it with family and friends and my conchitas small business began.” As she was looking for resources to help her start her business, a family member told her about Food Innovation Network and she was encouraged to apply for the incubator program.

Conchas are Ana’s specialty, and one of her favorite items to bake. You’ll understand why if you imagine yourself a part of one of her favorite food memories: “I was a child is sitting in front of the table in my grandma’s kitchen dunking my concha (pan dulce) into my canela (cinnamon) tea watching “El chavo del ocho” just laughing and enjoying my being a kid.”

A healthy life is important to Ana and her family, which includes a small flock of chickens. When she’s not spending time with her kids (who are active in sports), they like to spend as much time outside as possible. “We love hanging out with our chickens, gardening and being outside!” The entire family contributes to the business, including those chickens, as Ana works to incorporate the healthiest ingredients in her baked items (including her flock’s eggs when they’re available).

We asked Ana to introduce her business by answering a few questions:

Q&A

What kind of cuisine do you offer?

Traditional Mexican bakery items—often with a with a creative twist.

What is your favorite item to make?

“My favorite dish to bake is the concha, that is because I can make it as traditional as I grew up knowing it but I can also have fun and add new flavors, colors, design and any twists my creativity can think of. Being able to incorporate desserts and candies I grew up with have been my favorite part of baking my conchas. Our conchas are made with love, care and intention. We intentionally use organic flour, milk and quality butter and eggs. This is to not only create a baked treat that is notoriously delicious and a trip back to your childhood with every bite but it is also meant not to harm your body when eating it.”

What does an ideal day in business look like?

“Sharing my delicious baked treats with customers that already know me and new customers.”

What are your plans or dreams for the future?

“To grow my micro-bakery and successfully own a brick and mortar.”

What do you want to say to people who are curious about your food?

“I would like to say, come try it out, ask questions – I love nothing more than to tell you our story and share my delicious conchitas.  The story of how the passion of selling delicious food has been passed down from both my maternal and paternal grandmothers in Mexico; that’s what I grew up seeing and now that’s what I love to do now!”

You can find Canela at Maple Valley Farmers Market, through catering, and later this spring, Canela will be offering pre-orders for her delicious pastries for pick-up at Spice Bridge.