Mary Manulik understands timing and precise measures. She is a long-time musician, who applies that musical sensibility to her business, Senza Gluten Free Foods.
Mary began gluten-free baking in 1993, when her husband, Joe, discovered that he suffered from celiac disease. In those days, she did double duty in the kitchen, baking desserts with gluten for the children and gluten-free desserts for her husband. It didn’t take her long to realize the children were “eating all of Joe’s cookies before he got home from work.” From then on, she made all her desserts gluten-free. As she mastered her gluten-free baking skills, she began to sell her goodies to gluten-intolerant friends who struggled to find fresh gluten-free products.
By 2011, Mary was fully committed to Senza Gluten Free Foods, and has since converted her basement into a commercial gluten-free kitchen. Though Mary is the sole baker in her business, Joe often helps out, repairing kitchen equipment and washing dishes. “He is also my No. 1 taste tester, and is always happy to dispose of any leftovers.”
On baking days, Mary rises at 4 a.m. to prepare products for the Saturday Columbia Farmers Market. At the Senza booth, Mary offers a wide range of gluten-free products, including breads and breakfast foods — such as her popular bacon, chives, and cheddar quiche — as well as cookies, pies, and cakes.
Selling at the farmers market has enabled her to “reach a large number of customers who might not otherwise know about my small business,” she said. Customers shop at her booth and also can place orders to be picked up at her home business. She is also a frequent farmers market shopper. “I enjoy getting to know the other vendors and buying their produce.”
When she isn’t baking or at market, Mary offers private cello lessons. A practicing pianist and cellist, Mary chose the name “Senza” because it is the Italian musical term for “without.”
Although her goods are “without” gluten, they are not lacking in any other respect. “My goal is to provide freshly baked, gluten-free items that taste as good or better” than traditional baked goods, she said.
For more about Senza products and how to get them, visit senzafoods.com.