Anna-Maria Rumeo: The Sweet Life
The founder of cookie brand Annaretti Biscotti opens up on the company’s beginnings, gratitude and baking in her nonna’s memory
If anyone understands the relationship between food and family, it’s Anna-Maria Rumeo. With a mother who’s an avid cook and a nonna who was a prolific baker, the recipes passed down through her family are more than instructions. They’re memories, moments and treasured experiences that keep the tradition of food alive.
Rumeo was always connected to cooking. Throughout her career as a flight attendant, she would spend layovers looking at recipes to make when she returned home. Whether it was the inspiration for the next meal to share with her husband, something for a family dinner or exploring the tastes of a different culture, Rumeo’s passion rested in culinary experiences.
But it was after being let go from that job during the pandemic, which she’d been working in for eight years, Rumeo decided to take the recipes that originated with her nonna and do something with them. “I began baking some of our most cherished recipes from my nonna, mom, myself, and what I thought was going to be a little hobby during COVID turned into a fully sustainable business,” she says.
That business is Annaretti Biscotti. Specializing in baked goods that balance artistry with Nonna-approved flavour, the name of the brand is inspired by her late nonna, Anna, and her love of Amaretti.
“When somebody receives a box of Annaretti Biscotti, they get a little taste of culture and tradition, something that’s maybe lost in our modern world,” Rumeo continues. “To me, it’s so much more than a business. It’s about sharing traditions, family time and bringing back to life something I no longer have with my nonna.”
“When somebody receives a box of Annaretti Biscotti, they get a little taste of culture and tradition; something that’s maybe lost in our modern world”
While the recipes are those that have been passed down and perfected over time by her nonna, there are still technicalities and instincts that Rumeo has to apply. “Every season, I have to gauge the recipe and base because sometimes it needs a little less egg white or more almond flour,” she says. “That’s one of the biggest challenges. As much as I’m consistent on paper and with numbers, you have to know with your hands what’s the right consistency.”
With Rumeo’s baked goods available in retailers across the GTA, including Speducci Mercatto in North York, Petti Fine Foods in Toronto, Vici Bakery & Cafe in Woodbridge and Garden Foods and Longos in Bolton, and their reputation spreading through word of mouth and constant referrals, Annaretti is in a good position for growth.
No matter where the brand ends up, Rumeo is committed to staying grounded. “The most important thing in doing what I’m doing and continuing to do it at this level is I never forget where I came from,” she says. “Gratitude is No. 1 for me. The relationships I’ve made along the way with such wonderful people I never would have imagined,” she notes. “They were complete strangers that continue to send me beautiful compliments and referrals, and that’s one thing that really keeps me grounded.”
It’s these thoughts that direct both Rumeo and her brand today, and she’s someone who enjoys giving back. She shares how she donates money to “Fetch + Releash” and “The Dog Go Project” in the hopes it will help and inspire someone else to save an animal’s life.
This gratitude also directs her views on the future. “When I think about expanding, all I think about is how I can continue to do this and love it as much as I do at a higher level. That’s my No. 1 priority. To remember where you came from, be humble and be grateful for everything you’ve learned — failures, successes, everything.”