Our Story

Hi everyone Marco here - 3 Years ago, I was diagnosed with Diabetes after flatlining in a Sharp Memorial hospital bed.  My blood sugar levels were registered at over 1400 - 10x normal levels and I weighed over 350 pounds. After my near-death experience, I decided to use my 30+ years of professional cooking experience to turn my life around. Since 2016 I have lost over 125 pounds using healthy, delicious meals that don't compromise taste for health. One of the biggest things I have missed, however, is sugar-free desserts. After finding that there are few if any market options for healthy desserts, I set out to invent my own, coming up with a delicious chocolate mousse cake I call “The Cooking Penguin.” Since then, I have invented 2 more cakes and two cookie recipes with many more in the works once we launch. I also hope to share my amazing techniques, cooking recipes, and story with as many people as possible in the hope of inspiring those with diabetes to cook healthier, more delicious meals.

After meeting Marco while helping to teach a marketing class at SDSU in San Diego, AJ was hooked on his amazing story and agreed to become a co-founder of The Cooking Penguin. Nathaniel Hosmer joined shortly thereafter as the CFO to help make sure all our taxes, business licensing and finances were rock solid.

Why Penguins?

Meet our Family

Alexander “AJ” Crawford


When he isn’t working The Cooking Penguin’s marketing or sales channels, Alex helps grow startups at Gerson & Associates. AJ has over eight years of experience in a variety of sales positions, an innovative mind, and was PLNU’s top-ranked graduate of their 2019 marketing program. 

AJ helps our desserts attract more customers, translates Marco’s energetic presence into stories, and creates online marketing materials. If you’re a restaurant looking to grow your traffic, he is a great source of ideas. 

Marco Gaona


In 2017, after an unforeseen near-death experience from complications caused by Type 2 Diabetes and a high-stress work environment, Marco knew his life would have to change or he would not see his son graduate high school. 

Using his 30+ years of experience as a professional executive chef, Marco set out on a path of healthy cooking and eating. Since his hospital visit, he’s lost over 100 lbs and 14 pant sizes, regained energy he’d thought forever lost, and established a lifestyle of healthy eating without compromising taste or quality. 

As head chef at The Cooking Penguin, he is confident that our sugar-free cakes and desserts will be some of the best desserts you have ever tasted – with or without sugar. 

Nathaniel Hosmer


During the day, Nathaniel helps large companies manage their money as an analyst at StepStone Group. By night, he is The Cooking Penguin’s financial guru, navigating our legal, business, and financial operations. He is our primary point-of-contact for contract inquiries, financial negotiations and vendor pricing discussions. 

His spreadsheet skills are awe-inspiring but don’t let that fool you – he has a passion for cooking too.