Carson City native launches dessert business
Food. So fundamental to survival for everyone, yet so much of it became toxic to Kathryn Rogers, who became gluten-intolerant seemingly out of nowhere about a decade ago with little explanation as to why.
The Carson City native spent her childhood in excellent health, growing up passionately in love with baking and bringing ingredients together. She traveled to Southern California to get her degree in public health and marketing. But even as her health turned, her fervor for food did not.
Now, she’s using her passion to create desserts, including the launch of a Chakra Chocolate Truffle gift box set after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Rogers exceeded her funding goal and the campaign will enable her company in San Diego, Maya Moon, to package her products and cover her kitchen fees and the costs of her ingredients and begin shipping through an online store.
“Food has been the medicine that turned my health around,” she said. “It’s exciting to me to have had that experience. It obviously was challenging, and it has given me awareness of what others have given me with compassion, and it has been an inspiration for the creation of this product. I’m so grateful.”
Rogers derives her inspiration from the former Madeleine’s Bakery in Carson City, once a popular mainstay owned by Madeleine and Michael de la Torre that closed in 2012. The couple made cookies and brownies, then distributed to Costco from their warehouse building on Research Way, and their process was eye-opening for a native like her.
“That was formative for me, too, because I got to see how production works; I got to see how a woman-owned business thrived and see how their strategies worked,” she said.
Rogers began making wedding cakes and chocolates, but she discovered a hunger to develop a recipe for something beyond the typical dessert with ingredients that she personally could digest without becoming ill while maintaining a certain taste and appeal.
“I really fell in love with chocolate and understanding how things are processed,” Rogers said. “That was the spark of inspiration for chocolate truffles, for wanting to create a product that was nourishing and made with natural ingredients and nondairy … and then you can eat them and they’re decadent and indulgent.”
She opened her own business, Maya Moon Co., in a 2,400-square-foot commercial bakery in Bay Park, Calif., where she creates her truffles using spices and herbs.
She also began a blog, vivaciousdish.com, which details her journey back to health and provides recipes for a variety of entrees, desserts and beverages outlining how she invented them or why the ingredients are essential.
“I saw every sort of specialist under the sun, I went to primary care … the stuff I was experiencing was not diagnosable per se,” she said. “I just felt tired, I was fatigued, I had acne breakouts, inflammations, my digestion was really off, I tried prescription medication … the whole gamut. … What it came to was the sugar connection.”
The ingredients for Rogers’ original recipes are derived through partnerships with local and international organic farmers and beekeepers. She incorporates organic Peruvian cacao, coconut butter from Sri Lankan farms and various spices. The Chakra truffles Rogers currently is producing is made with Peruvian cacao consisting of fruits and spices meant to align the chakras, or the body’s energy centers.
Elsewhere in Southern California, she’s teamed up with the Mikolich family, the producers of Mikolich Family Honey in San Diego and Temecula, with stores and offices in Coronado, Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido, among others.
Erika Mikolich, daughter of founders Alan and Mary Mikolich, has helped to manage the honey business since 2011, whose father learned the trade from a family friend in the 1970s. Mikolich Family Honey is a seasonal business, so no two years are alike when it comes to production, and no pesticides are used among their crops.
She said partnering with people like Rogers who have a particular eye for natural products like Mikolich Honey and take their time and demonstrate a more methodical approach about what goes into their food products is beneficial for their own business and consumers.
“I understand and respect people’s interest,” Mikolich said. “Nowadays, there’s a lot of fraud in the honey world, especially with importing. … People are more aware, and they take the time to research their products more.”
Admitting to her own sweet tooth in regards to Rogers’ chocolate offerings, Mikolich was fascinated by how she might incorporate the honey products into her truffles.
“I see a lot of diversity in her products; I have never seen what she’s done,” she said. “I love that it’s naturally sourced and it’s fresh ingredients and I’m a big chocolate fan. And there’s a way to combine the two worlds, and that’s heaven on earth. I don’t have time to be making it myself.”
Rogers credits her awareness for the need for good health to her journey in recent years, and she said she’s created better recipes keeping her own diet and others’ in mind. She said her friends have reacted positively when she’s provided them with her desserts at gatherings.
“I love deconstructing what’s possible for people when it comes to indulgence and eating what’s decadent, but having them feel good – that’s my favorite feedback, and ‘This dessert feels good’ and ‘I feel great after eating that.’ That’s possible. There’s so much guilt around eating dessert. I love it. It makes me really excited to create experiences that are supportive of the whole body and healing and it’s yummy.”