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2 under-the-radar sweet makers in Marin

September 12, 2023

by Leanne Battelle| Marin IJ

 “I dedicate many hours a day to baking and decorating and love when people eating the desserts are smiling and can’t believe I made it,” says Nadia Montoya, owner and founder of Nadia’s Dessert. Photo by Jesse West

Nadia Montoya, creator and owner of Nadia’s Dessert, was beginning to take strides toward her dream of having her own bakery and café when she lost her nine-year job as a pastry chef at Boca Tavern in Novato and Boca Pizzeria in Novato and Corte Madera at the start of the pandemic.

In early 2020, she was participating in a 10-week series of classes called “Construyendo Mi Negocio” (“Building My Business”), a program sponsored by the Marin Small Business Development Center in partnership with Canal Alliance that empowers Marin-based Latinos with the tools and resources for launching a small business.

Determined not to let the pandemic shutdown put a wrench in her business plans, Montoya continued to bake, sharing desserts with friends and neighbors. Now, three years later, she fills the pastry cases at grocers in Mill Valley and Point Reyes Station and sells at four Bay Area farmers markets.

Montoya’s current repertoire of traditional desserts, some of which are gluten- and dairy-free, includes cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle, shortbread, molasses, coconut, caramel pecan and oatmeal raisin); brownies; breads (banana, pumpkin, zucchini and pound cake); fruit tarts; and cakes (cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, tres leches, chocolate Oreo and vanilla with butterscotch mousse in layers, slices or sheets).

“Baking is a happy thing, and I never thought of it as a business but rather a hobby,” says Montoya, referring to the time she spent in the kitchen to alleviate the pressures of a stress-inducing job in El Salvador, where she lived until coming to the United States 15 years ago. “I dedicate many hours a day to baking and decorating and love when people eating the desserts are smiling and can’t believe I made it. I am very grateful to the community for all the support.”

Montoya covers the bases, including the baking and packaging with the help of her husband, mother, and college-age niece and son. Two years ago, the family moved from San Rafael where she bakes at a commercial kitchen, to Petaluma, where Central Milling, her regular and gluten-free premium organic flour supplier, and Skippy’s Egg Store are located. Fresh fruits come from the farmer’s market.

Montoya’s vision for owning a retail bakery remains strong.

“My dream is to bake healthy desserts with more gluten-free options and plants and fruits as sweeteners,” says Montoya, about the inspiration she’s felt in creating her popular maple date cookie made without wheat, sugar, eggs and dairy for her mother who is diabetic.

You can find a variety of Nadia’s Dessert goodies at Mill Valley Market at 12 Corte Madera Ave. in Mill Valley; Palace Market at 11300 State Route One in Point Reyes Station; the San Rafael Thursday Marin Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. that has moved temporarily to the Northgate Mall parking lot in front of the movie theater; the Saturday Point Reyes Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Nov. 4 in Point Reyes Station; the Sunday Stonestown Galleria Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 19th Ave. in San Francisco; and the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information or to inquire about ordering for a special event, go to nadiasdessert.com or call 415-795-0246. For special order cakes, fill out a form at the two grocery stores or contact Montoya by phone, email (nadia@nadiasdessert.com) or direct message on Instagram @nadiasdessert.

Read the story on the Marin IJ.

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