Ashley Ramirez Ph.D., is a baker, restauranteur and author. She owns Mason Dixon Bakery, which specializes in gluten free products, as well as raising awareness about autoimmune disease and food allergies.
EVENT: What inspired you to be a baker?
AR: I always loved baking and cooking as a child, and some of my earliest memories are making apple pies for the holidays. It was my Pop-Pop’s favorite! While I loved being in the kitchen, I never actually dreamed of owning a bakery/restaurant. I am a chemist by training and at heart, which actually fits perfectly. Baking is truly science in the kitchen, fine tuning reactions to get the perfect texture and flavor profile. After finishing my doctorate, I came to Huntsville to pursue a career within the science field. Through a series of events, that career path did not come to fruition. While owning a bakery/ restaurant is not what I dreamed of as a child, I would never dream anything differently now. It is truly my passion, and my calling. I love being able to serve the community and fulfill a need, while bringing joy to people’s lives.
EVENT: Do you have a favorite story about a wedding or other kind of cake?
AR: It was actually a cupcake that changed my life forever. Mason Dixon started its first year primarily in the Farmers Markets, in order to increase awareness of the business. One of the first Saturdays at Madison City Farmers Market, I was set up with my cupcakes and breads on display. A little girl came up to the table, probably 5 or 6 years old, and looked at the cupcakes longingly. She said, “I wish I could have one.” I said, “Check with your Mommy, and maybe you can have one!” She said, “No, I can’t. I can’t have gluten.” My heart jumped. I said, “Well, you know what, every cupcake here is gluten free.” Her eyes lit up. She started pointing at the cupcakes. “This one is gluten free? This one is gluten free?” I kept nodding yes at every question. She couldn’t contain her excitement. She ran across to the booth where her Mom was and exclaimed, “Mommy, Mommy! Come here! I can have a cupcake, they are all gluten free.” In this moment, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
EVENT: Why is offering gluten-free products important to you?
AR: While choosing to be gluten free is a lifestyle decision for some people, for others, it is a necessity. I happen to be one of those people. Towards the end of college, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to basically attack itself when you consume gluten. Mason Dixon was founded for two purposes. One to provide gluten free products to the community, and two, to spread awareness of autoimmune diseases and food allergies. While everything is gluten free, we also address several common food allergies such as dairy, egg, soy and more. It is our mission to provide safe and delicious foods to everyone. We enjoy the challenge of designing foods to meet an allergen list. We believe no one should have to go without the pleasures of a birthday cake or wedding cake.