ICE Alum Opens Nut-Free Bakery in New Jersey
The 20-year-old Restaurant & Culinary Management grad hosted her storefront grand opening in September.
Olivia Moglino (Management, ’17) can die within 10 minutes of coming into contact with nuts — and she attended culinary school. Now she’s using her ICE education to make custom cakes and baking mixes for others with severe allergies.
When Olivia was a toddler allergic to eggs and milk, her mom — unaware of any nut allergy — wiped a knife clean between cutting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Olivia’s cream cheese and jelly sandwich. Shortly after, Olivia was purple, swollen and lifeless. Her ears swelled so much, a tube was blown out and she was left deaf on the right side.
“It was the most miniscule speck of peanut oil left on that knife,” says Olivia. “It’s not a sensitive thing with which your stomach gets stirred up a little; it’s life or death.”
At 16, she honed a hobby of baking for herself because she couldn’t risk cross contamination at bakeries. Olivia’s cupcakes, brownies and cookies were so good that her sister sent a homemade press kit to a local newspaper. A week later, the high school junior was on the front page and received thousands of emails from around the country requesting her products.
“There are a lot of customers just like me that are severely and deathly allergic,” she says. “I’m a great advocate for standing up for and knowing what I can and can’t eat, so that’s what my whole business is based around.”
Olivia’s new company, Nada Nut Bakery, offered custom cakes, wedding cakes, crumb cakes and generic baked goods. Due to Cottage Food Laws, she had to bake at a commercial kitchen but could sell out of her home, where the driveway became a parking lot for dozens of customers. With a growing business, Olivia wanted to learn the basics of baking from scratch and managing a business, so she applied to the Institute of Culinary Education as a senior in high school and started the Restaurant & Culinary Management and The Art of Cake Decorating programs two months after graduation.
On the first day of class, ICE instructor Alan Someck asked Olivia about her sales and she admits, she didn’t know the answer. In less than a year, Olivia learned the value of tracking how much she spends on ingredients.
“I learned everything I know now from ICE,” Olivia says. “I was thrown into the business not knowing anything, like numbers or vocabulary, and learned everything from doing a P&L (profit and loss) to figuring out the cost of goods, trademarks and a business plan.”
Meanwhile, she was baking in Cake Decorating and never eating anything she made. To avoid cross contamination, Olivia baked every recipe a second time at home to try the new cakes she was learning. Her favorite part of class: the final project.
“I would imagine every day what I wanted my final cake to look like,” she says. “It was really exciting to put everything I learned into that one design.”
Now her crumb cakes are a best-seller at Liv Nut Free (her new company’s name after trademark issues with her first business). On Sept. 15, she expected 300 guests for her storefront’s grand opening in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, where the news was shared on social media and in local press — with no advertising spend. Instead, 800 to 1,000 people drove to the peanut- and tree nut-free bakery from Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, despite the e-commerce website.
“It’s a very rare find,” says Olivia. “There are only about four nut-free bakeries in New Jersey and maybe only three in the city. Those that are allergic can come in and indulge in anything they want.”
The bakery offers seasonal specials, such as pumpkin cake and a gingerbread house kit, available online and in the store. She adds that nothing is replaced the way that flour is replaced in gluten-free baking. The company simply guarantees that all ingredients, from flour to fillings, are completely free of nut allergens.
“If there’s not a path for what you think you should do, then create one,” she advises entrepreneurs. “I went into this business not knowing a lot and had to create my own path of learning. Culinary management was such an amazing experience; learning the basics was huge.”