Dining profile: Patti’s Perfect Pantry moves to Morgan Hill to provide gluten-free desserts
Pre-made pie crusts and pizza dough are also sold
Published in the January 20 – February 2, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Marty Cheek
Patti Tartaglia started her Patti’s Perfect Pantry two years ago in a strip mall on the west end of Gilroy. The bakery quickly grew into a big hit among South Valley residents looking for delicious gluten-free and dairy-free desserts.
The 300-square-foot kitchen at the original site, however, was too small to pump out the kind of volume Tartaglia wanted. So when the chance came to move to Morgan Hill in a bigger and more elegant site next to Nob Hill Foods, she jumped in. It took a while for her to prepare the kitchen, but late last year, Patti’s Perfect Pantry opened and the owner-baker is seeing a constant stream of customers coming into the bakery, which features a charming “Alice in Wonderland” decor theme.
“She was my favorite character as a child,” Tartaglia said of the choice of Lewis Carroll literary ambiance. “I kind of have that kind of personality.”
Tartaglia started working in restaurants at 16 and soon discovered the art of cooking because the meals her mother made were “boring” and she decided to prepare cuisine that not only tasted good but was healthy to eat. “I’ve been a foodie all my life. I’ve always loved to cook. I use to watch the ‘Galloping Gourmet’ and Julia Child on TV,” she said.
Her specialty was breads which she enjoyed baking for herself and friends. Then six years ago, she found out that she had an intolerance to gluten, the protein in dough that helps keep it stiff as it rises.
“To me, it was like a death because my hobby was artisan baking,” she said. “Bread has always been my big thing to do, so when I had to go gluten free, it was like I was not only losing my favorite food but I was losing my favorite hobby.”
Late in life, she decided to go back to school for nutritional education, focusing on the holistic route. She started a business as a nutritional consultant with a goal not to sell supplements but to teach people how to home-cook nutritious meals. The economy went down, so she didn’t get the number of clients she wanted. Then she met the wife of Mike Monroe and learned about his retail shop in Morgan Hill called People and Planet. It sold healthy and organic food selections. She talked to Monroe and found a part-time job that also helped her build a side business consulting with people who wanted to get on a gluten-free diet. An employee from Specialized Bicycle Components next to the store suggested she start baking and selling gluten-free products. Tartaglia rented out the kitchen at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center on Mondays to bake her good which were sold at the store. Customers raved about the pastries, helping her build her business through word of mouth. Soon, she opened a store in Gilroy — and a couple of years later moved it to Morgan Hill.
“It’s kind of been a whirlwind,” she said. “It’s been extremely rewarding because I have the best customers in the world. People come in every day to thank me because they need gluten-free food.”
Besides selling gluten-free and also dairy-free desserts such as cupcakes, scones, muffins, gourmet cookies and cheesecakes, the bakery also sells pre-made pie crusts and pizza dough. It serves breakfast and lunches specially prepared for people with the gluten and dairy ingredient restrictions. Patti’s Perfect Pantry packs in the patrons pursuing plentiful pastries permeating with pure palatable pleasure. It also makes Tartaglia’s life fun as she makes new friends with customers.
“I’ve always loved the restaurant business because I love the chaos and the unpredictability,” she said. “ It feeds me. A lot of people can’t handle it but for me it feeds me because I don’t want to get bored.”