People who create exquisite food seem to have one thing in common - the innate desire to get their hands dirty and make something from scratch. Cami Gable is no exception. Her artisan cheesecakes are developing a cult following, and with good reason, they're made the long and hard way and you can taste it.
Clockwise from top left: the signature plain cheesecake with sliced strawberries; Cami Gable putting the finishing touches on a bride's cheesecake display; chocolate cheesecake with handmade chocolate roses and lime flavored leaves; toasted coconut and chocolate cheesecake
When I met with Gable, the mastermind behind the cheesecakes of Canopy Road Market, she opened the conversation casually talking about her three years of missionary work in Albania. I was enthralled. How does a woman go from missionary work in Albania to cheesecake making in Sarasota? Turns out it makes perfect sense.
Gable grew up in the small Michigan harbor town Omena, small being a gross understatement since the town's population was a mere 50. The nearest grocery store was more than 30 miles away, making quick trips to the store not an option - if a sudden craving for cookies struck, the oven was fired up and out came the flour and sugar. Fortunately, Gable’s mother and grandmother instructed her in the art of cooking from scratch at an early age, everything from cinnamon rolls to pizza, enabling her to get in the kitchen and create. The Canopy Road Market website tells a story of Gable and her older sister, at merely 11 and 13 years of age, serving as cooks at their family-run marina and restaurant. Since customers were few and far between, they often cooked up the orders in their soaking wet bathing suits between beach jaunts. Making hard work fun was a way of life, it was a part of her childhood and it carried through to her adulthood.
Seeking adventure outside her smaller than small hometown, Gable headed south to Sarasota where she met her husband. With the desire to make a difference and no stranger to getting their hands dirty and making sacrifices, they moved to Albania to work as missionaries. For three years they lived and cooked as rural Albanians. While most newly weds are laughing over their failed attempts at grilling bone-in chicken breasts (no easy feat for a first-timer), Gable and her husband were raising chickens... and milking their own cow, growing their own vegetables, cooking on a wood-burning stove, and making everything from scratch. The 30 mile trek to the grocery store in Omena would have been a luxury in the rural community where Gable now lived. More than ever, if a craving struck, she had to come up with a way to make it. A pioneer at heart, she immersed herself in this lifestyle.
When her and husband returned to Sarasota to plant roots, they brought with them a sense of community and a connection to the land that supports it. Despite being a very busy working mother of four, Gable maintains a vegetable garden and chicken coup on her property and prides herself on continuing to cook most things from scratch, a passion she shares with her children. In a time when packaged cakes and box-mixes rule, her painstaking way of making cheesecake has garnered a lot of attention over the years. It all began when she brought one to a birthday party. It stole the show and word quickly spread that Gable's cheesecake is like no other. It took a few years of rave reviews before she mustered up the courage to make her cheesecakes available to anyone other than the folks lucky enough to call her their friend. When she did, Canopy Road Market was born, and her cheesecakes can be ordered by anyone within driving distance of her teenage son, the delivery boy.
When something is made from the freshest ingredients, with no corners cut and attention paid to every detail, it shows and it leaves a lasting impression. Creating the perfect density, texture, and the precise balance of sweet and signature cheesecake tang is an exercise in futility. Gamble didn’t stumble upon the perfect recipe, she did the perfecting herself after years of tweaking. This devotion to the art of creating something so delectable completely from scratch, a task that takes hours upon hours for every cheesecake, is evident before even taking the first bite. Her cheesecakes look as stunning as they taste. Some might call her a bit of a cheesecake snob, including herself, but it’s not snobbery that makes Gable’s cheesecakes masterpieces, it’s the product of a life filled with hard work made into fun.
Canopy Road Market’s cheesecake flavors run the gamut from the more traditional "plain" adorned with a stunning Fibonacci pattern of sliced strawberries to Limoncello, Espresso Martini, and Caramel Apple Pecan, to name a few. They can be found at Owen's Fish Camp on the weekends, or by custom order online via CanopyRoadMarket.com