A Recipe for Resilience: How Food Allergies Shaped My Story
Updated August 2023
I am Malia Elijah, a thriving senior in high school. Alongside this, I carry the roles of an aspiring architect, a dedicated dancer, and the proud founder of ENDless Bakery.
Talking about my bakery brings me immense joy because it allows me to raise awareness about food allergies, a cause close to my heart. Let me share the story of ENDless Bakery, a venture that began when I was only 10 years old.
Back then, I realized there was a vital need for a safe space where kids like me, dealing with severe food allergies to eggs, nuts, and dairy, could enjoy freshly baked treats without worry. In 2016, with my parent’s support, I turned this idea into a reality and brought ENDless Bakery to life. We began baking and selling mouth-watering cinnamon rolls, muffins, cupcakes, and cookies from our home. The special part? All our treats were free from Eggs, Nuts and Dairy – the inspiration behind our name, delicious goodies, less the E.N.D.- eggs nuts and dairy.
We started sharing our allergy-friendly goodies within our neighborhood and at local festivals. Our treats were a hit not only with those with food allergies but also with people that had none. Only a month later, we started receiving requests from customers living hours away.
In 2017, my mom and I opened our first kitchen and store in Spring, TX, dedicated to being allergen-free. That year, our sugar cookies became popular with the local schools and businesses. We also catered to gluten-sensitive diets. In 2019, we made a substantial change to eliminate all gluten from the bakery, making us the only commercial kitchen in Houston free from the top 8 major food allergens.
Because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were faced with a tough choice to close our bakery’s kitchen and store. Determined to keep my company alive, I started working on my first cookbook in 2022 and had a big plan to use social media and local events to spread awareness about food allergies. However, life had other plans. My dear grandpa, in his valiant battle against stage 4 prostate cancer, grew even more fragile. He spent his last 8 months at our home before passing away in the spring of my junior year. Losing him left a huge void, and this summer, we honored his memory by laying him to rest on the island of Guam, his homeland.
This experience reshaped my journey. Rediscovering my family roots and immersing myself in the native Chamorro culture on the island of Guam inspired me to rekindle my cookbook project, though this time with a fresh perspective. The cookbook, dedicated to my beloved grandpa, is scheduled to be released in January 2024 and will feature the original ENDless Bakery recipes as well as allergy-friendly adaptations of our treasured family dishes, all influenced by my exceptional grandpa, who was truly one of the finest cooks I have had the privilege to know.
While those times were tough, they have really shaped who I am today. Food allergies do not control me. Instead, I have learned to turn challenges into opportunities, and I am excited about what lies ahead for my future. My mission is to create exceptional things for me, my family and everyone around me.
I'm looking forward to sharing my passions with you in my first cookbook coming soon!