Word of Mouth

Cappello's gluten-free pasta moving fasta than owners expected

When friends Benjamin Frohlichstein and Stacey Marcellus first talked about creating a gluten-free pasta company a few years ago, they wanted to create a viable business -- but they never expected Cappello's to become so successful so quickly. "All of a sudden we were on the shelves," Frohlichstein says. And not just any shelves: Today gluten- and grain-free pasta from Cappello's can be found not only in Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and Sprouts stores across Colorado, but also in five other states.

See also: The gluten-free crust at Domino's Pizza is actually gluten-free!

Three years ago Marcellus, a hairstylist, had just been diagnosed with gluten intolerance; Frohlichstein worked in real estate. Both thought it was time to do something different with their lives, and they decided there was a market for gluten-free, grain-free pasta. "We both have a passion for food and we wanted to do something more tangible, something that had an energetic exchange behind it, where you could walk in a store and pick it up from a shelf, so we had the idea of starting a fresh pasta company. There was not a fresh gluten-free pasta that I knew about at that time and it just seemed like the right thing," Frohlichstein recalls.

They gave their fledgling company Marcellus's mother's maiden name: Cappello's.

Although neither had any professional cooking experience, Marcellus had spent a year in Argentina, where she'd learned to make gnocci. They developed the rest of their recipes -- almond flour is key -- with the help of friends, and through trial and error. "You could probably wash a car with all the tears. There were just days when everything went wrong, just by not knowing that if you open the refrigerator too many times, the cool lost will affect the pasta you are experimenting with," Frohlichstein says.

Once they had something worth presenting to the public, they started asking strangers to taste their pasta at farmer's markets. They used that feedback to refine their fettuccini, gnocchi and lasagna, which they ten began selling at the markets and on the Cappello's website. That allowed them to grow their company nationally without being national, Frohlichstein says.

But their lives aren't all work: When Frohlichstein is not making pasta, he is an enthusiastic yoga teacher. Marcellus likes snowboarding, fermenting food and painting.

And they're still taking time to experiment with new recipes. Cappello's recently teamed up with Primal Palate -- a paleo, grain-free cooking and lifestyle website founded by cookbook authors Bill Staley and Hayley Mason -- and recently launched a vegan, grain-free chocolate chip cookie dough for those on a paleo diet or with gluten intolerance. it's currently for sale only online, but should be in stores by the end of the month.

The guiding idea behind Cappello's remains simple: "We take food that we have been traditionally eating all our lives and use untraditional ingredients to make it taste freaking awesome," Frohlichstein concludes.

For more information visit capellosglutenfree.com.

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