Archive for May 2011

Allergy-Free Bakery Sensitive Sweets Comes to the OC

I know what you are thinking.  There is a headline typo for this story.  Allergy-free Bakery.  Really?Sensitive Sweets in Fountain Valley

When you visit Sensitive Sweets for the first time, you will realize that there is a definitely a passion for kids with food allergies that exists within.  Owner Melanie, mother of 2 boys, has been living the life of a mother of a child with food allergies for several years now…thus the reason and her motivation for opening the allergy-free bakery.  You can tell that Melanie is pastionate about her product.  Just .talking with her for a few minutes will unveil her touching story and the too common tale of a parent's struggle with a child that battles food allergies.

Within her store, which is conveniently located about a 1/4 off Freeway at Brookhurst and the 405 Freeway, this North Orange County bakery is the only bakery in Orange County that is truly allergy-free.  You will not find any regular products in this story.  Her store has been open about a month now (although she has been doing the business for several years) and the traffic is beginning to pick up.  We were able to visit her on a Saturday with our two kids in tow.  With the exception of an item or two, everything in the store is allergy-free:  wheat (gluten) free, dairy (casein) free, egg free, soy free and nut free….however, it is better to call ahead and make sure that your child's particular allergy is not an issue.

Sensitive Sweets in Fountain Valley

And just wait until you hop over to her website and start to look at the "what is possible" selection of allergy-free cakes that they can produce.  I can safely say that our next birthday party will have some form of treat creation from Sensitive Sweets.  Having looked through some of the cakes they have created, Sensitive Sweets is definitely the Ace of Allergy-Free Cakes for Orange County.  I think even Duff Goldman would be proud.

As we left the store today, the words written below on a large chalboard rang true with us…."Everyone deserves a treat."  When your kids have food allergies…these are definitely special words to ready.  Take a second and read about Melanie's story.  If you or your kids suffer from food allergies, make sure you give yourself a treat and head up to their store in Fountain Valley.  Keep in mind that the store is not open Sundays/Mondays. But speaking from my experience (and the happy smiles on my kids as we walked out with enough sweets to last the week), you will not be disappointed.  Make sure that you tell Melanie that you read about it on the website too.

One last note.  OCmenus also wrote a good story on Melanie that you can read about too.


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Wednesday, May 18 Food Allergy Support Group Meeting

Please come join us for the Orange County Parents of Kids with Food Allergies Support Group Meeting meeting on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Room 407 at Saddleback Church at 6:30 PM. The Orange County Saddleback Church Parents of Children with Food Allergies support group is a non-medical support group designed for parents of kids who are impacted by food allergies. The group meets to provide:

  • Emotion support for one another
  • A safe place to share concerns, successes and strategies to manage your kids food allergies
  • Learning about new resources and tools

At Wednesday's meeting, we would like to focus the discussion on School types issues. There are so many different types of issues that we deal with at school. Come learn and share different ways to cope with these often difficult environments for kids with food allergies.


Saddleback Church is located at: 1 Saddleback Parkway, Lake Forest, CA 92660

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Steve Negri, Owner/Founder of Mandy's Pizza

The World’s Best Allergy-Free Pizza (Video Interview)

A few weeks ago, we were blessed to have Steve Negri visit our Food-Allergy Support Group Picnic day.   Here is a short interview we had with Steve Negri on his motivations for making the Mandy's Pizza Allergy-Free Pizza.

Here is the video.


Interview with Mandy's Pizza Owner/Founder, Steve Negri – April 2011

What makes Mandy’s Pizza different than other Allergy-Free Pizzas?

When you come to us for Pizza, you can get almost any literal topping you can get yourself when you go to a Pizza shop.  Pepperoni, sausage…you can get ham on it.  You can get salami on it…whatever you want.  Whatever you kids wants to be able to finally enjoy Pizza like Mommy and Daddy get to enjoy.  The products that we buy we make sure that we can try to feed the people with food allergies.  And again, people say, I get it because I live it.  Because of our son, Celiac Disease is no where the same as food allergies.  So by default, my pizza was made for this (small amount) of people.  These 15 little kids… not the 50 Celiacs that are out there.  That’s where I make all my money, but it wasn’t done for them.    It was done for my little boy.  And if he can eat it, they can eat it.

How does the Pizza at Mandy’s Pizza taste?

For those who eat traditional cheese, it is even that much better.  I had a guy.  He is an auditor for the State of Massachusetts and called me up and said, “I got a problem.”  “You didn’t ship me a gluten-free pizza” Bob, yes it is.  “No, it’s not.  I’m telling you right now.  I’m on my way down.”    He comes down.  It was a gluten-free pizza.  It’s not like everybody else’s.

What makes the Mandy’s Pizza Allergy-Free safer than other pizzas?

During the cooking process, I yell out “Allergy-Free” or they may yell out “Gluten-Free”.  They yell out Allergy-Free pizza in the oven.    Everybody knows that you have to get the tools, make sure you don’t put anything else next to it.  We have two separate ovens.  There are 3 types or 4 types of ovens in our industry:  the traditional coal and wood-fire ones; the deck ovens that have the bricks in there.  The last two would be conveyer ovens.  Mine is the only one that does not have a blower in it.  The blower would blow around all of the flour and all of the allergens in it.  Ours does not have a blower.  It is specifically made, not for us, but it was specifically chosen so that I can sell this product.

People with deck ovens, and I am not going to say who they are around her, who sells a gluten-free product, you are taking a grave chance because they are putting it in the oven, on its own screen…but all that flour is sitting on that deck.    It doesn’t come out.  You brush it away…whatever you think.  But it’s still in there.

Our conveyors have no blowers so when it goes in; it sits on a track on their own screens.  They take it off and put those screens back in secure area.  They have their own tools.  They wash their hands.  They use rubber gloves when they make it.

Steve Negri, Owner/Founder of Mandy's PizzaWhy does Mandy’s Pizza make an Allergy-Free Pizza?

It is not a revenue stream for me.  It is a favor…not for adults…but for kids…because kids don’t get to go out and have the fun stuff.

What joy do you get by making an Allergy-Free Pizza?

When you see a little kid come in there and they’ve never had Pepperoni Pizza before.  It’s a running joke at the store where I work all the time.  My one manager Doug goes “Thank you Steve Negri.”  It’s just a joke because kids come up, they give you little card, they tell you thanks.  “Go up and thank that man.”  That’s why we do it…because that kid would have never enjoyed pizza.  How many years go by…”Have you ever eaten pizza?”  “No, I can’t eat Pizza.”

“Yes you can”.  You just have to know where to get it.


The Final Word…

For a parent of two kids with food allergies, it is so amazing that there are people like Steve in the world…who care enough about kids with food allergies to make such a great product.  And speaking from someone who has actually eaten his pizzas….it is definitely true.  These are amazing pizzas that will leave you shaking your heads in disbelief.  The only thing I can say is that if you find yourself in Orange County, CA (Ladera Ranch) or in Pittsburgh, PA and your kids have food allergies….give them a treat that they will remember.

Mandy's Pizza can be found at: 27732 Antonio Pkwy, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 and


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