Faces Of Nantucket: Maria Cardona

Charity Grace Mofsen •

FACES Maria Cardona 6
Maria Cardona. Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen


Years on island: 7 (full time)

Favorite thing about Nantucket: the people; “My routine on Nantucket is like no other; and I love the winter–the diversity. I can feel it more in the winter.”

If you’ve ever stepped foot in Roastd General Store, you’ve likely been met by the delicious aromas of Maria Cardona’s baking followed by her smiling face – welcoming you into the quaint space located at the corner of Orange Street and West Creek Road.

Originally from Colombia, Cardona thought she’d study photography to follow in her father’s footsteps. She quickly realized she was not an academic person and while dropping out of school may have been a villain origin story for others, it was certainly the opposite for Cardona.

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Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

Working as a manager in large and small restaurants in New York for 26 years, Cardona even worked for Anthony Bourdain before he was famous – when he was “just a guy.”

She remembers his words fondly.

“If you don’t take care of the dishwasher, you are nothing.”

Cardona always felt connected to the back of the house – or BOH, a term commonly used in the restaurant industry – where food prep, storage, and administration take place.

“In my family, we’d always end up in the kitchen,” she said.

And it’s no wonder that’s where she finds herself most comfortable. Her grandfather was a banker, but started a tiny restaurant where he was known to feed his friends rather than turn a profit. Her mother, who Cardona says is her role model, fell in love with the restaurant industry after visiting Maria in New York – prompting her to go back to Colombia and start a place called Azul delivering lunch in her community.

After arriving on Nantucket full-time, Cardona started working with Annie at Annie’s Whole Foods where thanks to Annie’s cookbooks, Chris Morris from 8 Arms Chef Services, and her mom, she learned to cook vegan meals.

Despite going back to front of the house (FOH) work for two years at the Club Car, Cardona eventually found her way back to her passion. On being a chef, “I love being a leader and I’m not afraid to do any part of the job,” she said. “Without my team, my work family I wouldn't be able to do any of this.”

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Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen

When she started looking into starting her own restaurant here on Nantucket, she found that the path was full of obstacles – making it seem virtually impossible. But the island has a way of nurturing dreams that are ready to come true. Cardona soon connected with investors who believed in her dream and this self-taught chef was on her way.

When she isn’t serving up espresso and gut-friendly scones, Cardona and her husband Jerry of 17 years spend as much time as possible with their three black labs. Inspired to start working with sourdough in 2020 after her mom started making all things fermented, Cardona began mixing kefir with grains and in turn, experiencing the benefits in gut health for herself and Jerry, and even the pups! Shortly thereafter, her sourdough muffins were born.

What started as a small blank canvas has grown into a welcoming gathering space where Cardona feels the joy of bringing people together, connecting those who might not find each other if it weren’t for tasty food and good coffee. And now, Roastd is on the slow journey of growth. They are hoping to expand to a larger space where Cardona will continue creating yummy, healthy, food year-round – food that represents the melting pot that we all are. So be on the lookout!

All photos by Charity Grace Mofsen.

FACES Maria Cardona
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen
FACES Maria Cardona 2
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen
FACES Maria Cardona 3
Photo by Charity Grace Mofsen
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