Gold Member Access
*** All Donations will receive Exclusive gold member access: Gold members will receive a password for priority access to the store from 18:00 to 20:00 Monday to Friday. This priority access will give you the opportunity to order the food that you want before the store is opened to the general public daily. Avoiding any disappointment due to stock not being available (exclusive access will last until 1st June 2021) ***
My love and passion for food started with sugar craft classes, to build my confidence after two years of cancer treatment.
I started the business because I understood the fear of eating out. Everything in life is built around food, birthday parties, family get-to-gethers, lunch with friends, even going to a food festival can be a nightmare.
Coeliacs have been scared and felt excluded for so many years. I wanted to change this. So about 8 years ago I started to sell cupcakes using my sugar craft at Wells market stall. I was astonished by the feedback and how grateful people were to be catered for.
Being coeliac myself for over 25 years, everything has always been prepared and manufactured in an entirely wheat and gluten free kitchen. It is hard for a lot of people to understand a single crumb, can make a coeliac very very ill.
After listening to what customers had to say - I realised what people really wanted was good quality savouries.
We took this as a challenge and created our own unique pastry, enabling us to produce high quality sausage rolls, Cornish style pasties and even pastel de nata amongst many other items. I took a selection of these to the market stall. The savouries were so popular that word soon got round about our products and we were overwhelmed.
We then decided to take the next step and invested in a catering van for shows and events. Imagine our surprise to win a Best in Show on our very first event in the van!
With these recipes, Gluten Free Gourmet went on to win numerous national awards, including our Free From food award.
After receiving the Free From National award we had to choose to cut back or invest in bigger premises to keep up with demand. Everything the business made was invested into a new shop in Glastonbury - "Pie and Tart" a gluten free cafe.
The idea was coeliacs could walk into the cafe, knowing there was no risk of cross contamination. The business went from strength to strength and the demand for our pastries was so phenomenal, we could only open 3 days a week as it took 4 days to be able to produce enough stock to keep up with the demand.
The biggest surprise is the amount of people who were not coeliacs who became regular customers, just because they loved the taste and quality of the food we produced.
I have had my heart touched by many customers and their feedback, all of our customers are special to me. One family I met at a festival said it was the first time they had managed to all be catered for in one place over 18 years. The most common feedback is "are you sure this is gluten free - because it tastes so good"
Where we are now:
Then 2020 hit, COVID struck millions of businesses around the globe. I put my customers before my business knowing that coeliacs have a weaker immune system, so I closed my cafe just before the lock down.
With a break clause on our cafe lease approaching us, I had to make a very hard decision in giving up the cafe due to covid not allowing us to operate as we had in the past.
Within a few weeks of lock down, I was inundated with messages from the community such as "please feed me", "I am hungry", and "Can we come to your house and collect food". We decided to offer a pre-order 'collection only' service at the cafe, keeping to social distancing guidelines. Meaning our customers could be kept as safe as possible at the time.
Unfortunately a lot of our customers have been advised by the government to self isolate as they are high risk. As such they were unable to get the food they needed. This resulted in local home deliveries.
We realised very quickly this was the only way to keep our customers safe and allow the business to survive.
With a national customer base, built up through shows we participated in across the UK, we have become inundated with requests which we can not fulfil.
This plea for help, is to enable us to kit out a brand new industrial unit as a purpose built factory for production of our gluten free products - so they may be delivered to the doors of coeliacs all over the country on a 24 hour service.
The initial cost of this is astronomical (around £40,000) with the need for industrial food mixers, pastry sheeters (which will allow us to produce as much pastry in an hour as we previously produced over 3 days), industrial walk in refrigerators and multiple ovens, dishwashers, stud walls to meet EHO requirements, electrical contractors, lease deposit and rent.
If we were any other business we could look at used and second hand equipment, but we are unable to take the risk of cross contamination, hence the cost being so high. Some of our equipment can be pre-used but will need to be stripped down and refurbished to an as new state which will have to be done professionally, but this again is costly.
We aim to open the factory and go live Mid November, in time to ensure everyone gets the good quality food they deserve over Christmas.
Our customers have been very good to us over the years and are amazing people. We appreciate all contributions no matter how small.
We will keep you all updated with equipment purchased and photos of the new unit when we get the keys on 2nd November.
Even if you are unable to donate, please check out our Facebook page for updates!