Connecting the celiac disease and food allergy/intolerance community together by sharing our stories to food freedom. From our beginning struggles to striving after a diagnosis, we can all relate and help each other out by sharing what we’ve learned and our unique personal journeys.
We are back with another Freedom Feature today! I’m so honored to introduce Jacqueline from Wheat’s End to you. Wheat’s End is a double whammy and is a physical cafe, located in Chicago, and a bakery, selling their goodies online! You will be drooling over their their amazing gluten-free bagels, English muffins, breads, and so many other fantastic treats!
background: who are you?
Amelia Fonti is a former opera singer and voice teacher with a lifelong interest in food. Susan McMillan left a short career as a lawyer to rear kids and pursue a wide range of interests. The illnesses of a daughter and a close friend developed Susan’s interest in nutrition and Amelia’s fascination with food into a quest to create recipes at once safe and delicious for people on restricted diets—a quest that has never ended. Jacqueline Methling is also part of the team; she’s not only a foodie, she attended Kendall College Culinary School and has an autoimmune disease that gives her first-hand perspective on our product line. Overall, we are a supportive and fun group of women making a difference in the food industry and it’s truly a joy (in addition to being a lot of hard work!).
what led you to start Wheat’s End?
We started by developing gluten-free versions of dishes for a recently diagnosed Celiac friend who owned a small Lebanese restaurant with her husband. When her husband died unexpectedly, we temporarily took over the running of the restaurant and quickly realized how desperately people with Celiac disease and severe gluten intolerance needed a safe place to eat. When our friend returned from mourning her husband, she fortunately found a buyer for her restaurant. But we set out to provide another safe place where our gluten-free customers and their friends and family could all eat together.
what are the foundations, values, and mission of your company?
Our goal is to provide food that is safe for all on a gluten-free diet that is yet good enough on its own terms–in taste, texture, and nutrition—to appeal to all customers whether gluten challenged or not. We hope Wheat’s End Café is a space where gluten affected customers can freely share meals and enjoy the company of their family and friends.
Our wholesale business – Wheat’s End Artisan Foods – was built to serve our café but also customers from around the country. Those customers can purchase our gluten-free breads and sweets online. We are thrilled to receive notes every week from customers all over the country thanking us for bringing them a delicious gluten-free English muffin, bagel, soft pretzel and more back into their lives. Many of these customers have been doing without these American food traditions since diagnosis.
tell us about your products and what makes them unique?
We strive to make sure that everything we make doesn’t just taste good or reproduce the taste and texture of their gluten-full counterpart but also includes good nutrition. Even our sweet items – such as our gluten-free and vegan donut line for example – contain good amounts of protein and fiber.
what’s your favorite or most popular item(s)?
Our gluten-free English muffins and NY style bagels are top sellers! But not far behind are our gluten-free and vegan cinnamon rolls and donuts followed by our cheddar-chive biscuits and hearty German-style soft pretzel buns and baguettes.
what do you hope to see in the future; for yourself, the company, and the gluten-free/food allergy community?
We hope to continue provide great baked goods and a safe haven for the gluten free community and their family and friends as long as the need exists. As one of the only 100% dedicated gluten-free restaurants in Chicago, we are lucky to serve this community as they are so rewarding to us.
We also hope to build our presence beyond our café and online store through a new e-commerce website and distribution network. We truly thrive on the smiles we bring to our Celiac and gluten-intolerant community and want to continue to reach them no matter where they are in the US!
do you have a favorite recipe?
We really enjoy customizing our gluten-free English muffins and bagels with a wide array of toppings. We have many bloggers that do the same and share their creations with us which we love! Our English muffins, for example, are a wonderful blank slate for both savory toppings such as avocado and pesto and sweet ones such as homemade nut butter and jam or smashed fruit and drizzled honey.
We also love to see our gluten-free and vegan pizza crusts transformed into delicious traditional pizzas or creative ones with simple ingredients such as roasted garlic and crushed tomatoes and dairy-free cheese.
We even created a hashtag so we can see how our customers “do” Wheat’s End. It’s #myWheatsEnd for anyone that wants to join!
So tell me:
+ Which of their products are you dieing to try first? Those vegan English muffins and bagels, please!
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