Families with nut allergies can now outsource birthday cakes, wedding cakes, holiday treats, and much more thanks to a new nut free bakery in the western suburbs. Callie's Cuties Nut FREE Bake Shop (Plainfield, Ill.) opened its commercial doors to the public in March and has already found a niche within the community.
"I wanted to give other families with nut allergies a chance to buy a cake and not have to worry about whether their loved one would end up in the hospital," says Owner Laura Meehan. "There is a unique concern for families of food allergies knowing that if even a trace amount of nuts is in an ingredient, it could be a deadly mistake. I want these celebrations to be the joyful occasions they are meant to be, not a cause for concern and heartache."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies rose 50% between 1997 and 2011 in children alone--the opening of a "safe" bakery is a welcome addition to the community for many.
"As an allergy mom, to be able to get anything safe from a bakery makes me feel so happy for my daughter," says Naperville resident Emily Barenbrugge. "Seeing her eat something from a bakery and be safe and feel a sense of normalcy is the best feeling in the world."
Emily's daughter Shayla is four years old. Before Emily found Callie's, Shayla's treats for school and birthday parties were homemade baked goods while her friends all ate a bakery dessert. "It's a small way to ensure she is included and not always the 'different' kid," says Barenbrugge.
Emily's story, and Laura's own, is the reason Meehan opened this nut free bakery.
In 2005, Laura and her husband Tom nearly lost their two year-old daughter, Callie, after she ate two small cashews. Those two nuts changed Meehan's world, and her course in life. As Callie grew, she realized she was "different" and became frustrated and sad at the idea of always having to eat something that her family and peers were not eating, asking her mom when she would ever be "normal."
"I'll never forget the day we almost lost Callie," says Meehan. "Even eight years later, I can't tell the story without tears. It was terrifying. We learned we had to avoid all nuts to keep her safe and out of the hospital. As she grew, and I started looking around for resources to help my daughter feel included in all of her celebrations, I was surprised to see there was nothing for families like ours."
That's when she decided to do something about it.
Eight years later, Meehan opened her doors to the public. She has spent hours on the phone with manufacturers to secure guaranteed nut free ingredients, "If they even have nuts in their facility, I won't consider it," she says. And now, as a member of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) Network she has become the resource she searched for years ago.
"Laura is wonderful to work with," says Barenbrugge, who has bought baked goods at Callie's on several occasions. "Everything we've eaten from her bakery is outstanding, and she cares about her customers deeply. It is such a relief to know we can rely on safe treats coming from her bakery."
Callie's Cuties Nut FREE Bake Shop is located at 16108 S. Rt. 59 - Unit 110B/REAR, Plainfield, Ill., 60586. "As of now, we do not have a storefront -- we are 'Baking in the Back' of unit 110 and are working on adding the front retail space in the near future" say Meehan. A full menu of offerings, and more information about the bakery are found on the web at www.ccnutfree.com.
About Callie's Cuties Nut FREE Bake Shop
Open for business in March 2014, Callie's Cuties Nut FREE Bake Shop (Plainfield, Ill.) is the only nut free bakery in Chicago's western suburbs. Catering to families with food allergies, owner Laura Meehan carefully sources her ingredients to ensure her customers can eat treats that are safe for all with life-threatening nut allergies. More information about the bakeshop can be found online at www.ccnutfree.com.