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Sofi Awards Announcement

We are thrilled to announce that our Flourless Chocolate Torte is this year’s Bronze Medal winner in the Gluten Free category of the Specialty Food Association sofi Awards this month!

According to the SFA, “For more than 45 years the Specialty Food Association has presented sofi Awards to recognize innovation and remarkable taste, and to highlight the flavors and the creativity found across our industry.” Gem City Fine Foods is a member of the Association and has entered several products in recent years in sofis in both the Gluten Free and Vegan categories. This year’s winners, including acceptance videos, can be viewed on the Specialty Food Association website.

We are thankful to everyone on the Gem City team who helped make this happen: Owner Rick Kent, CEO/ Sales & Marketing Manager Lisa Cox, Bakery Whitney Black, Packaging Supervisor Rovic Giuliana Ayala, Office Assistant Rachel Klein and former Operations Manager Keelie Wood. And we all would like to thank our loyal customers and fans over the years, as well as the Specialty Food Association judges. The Flourless Chocolate Torte has been our number one seller since we began. We will be back in the future with more products we hope are chosen as winners, too!

Berry Good News!

Today is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. But did you know many people are allergic to strawberries?

Food allergies affect millions of people in the US, and can be as serious as causing anaphylactic shock and even death. For those who love berries but can’t eat strawberries, and for people who prefer cheesecake to ice cream, our Triple Berry Streusel Cheesecake could be that answer to your dessert wishes: creamy traditional cheesecake on a gluten free cookie crust, topped with a mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in a pecan streusel.

If you are allergic to tree nuts, one of the eight most common food allergies, don’t eat that cheesecake- yet. But soon, we are excited to announce, you will be able to enjoy the luscious berry treat. We are working on removing all nuts from our desserts and therefore our dedicated, certified gluten free bakery facility, and have put the Spring Equinox on the calendar as our goal date!

In the meantime, rest easy knowing that all our desserts, except the Triple Berry Streusel Cheesecake and Carrot Cake are free of nuts, and that we carefully store our pecans and almonds separately from all other ingredients, and thoroughly clean and sanitize after every production run of desserts containing nuts.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress toward going nut-free. And you enjoy the day, and the berries and creamy desserts of your choice!

New Year, New Stuff!

Happy 2018 to all our friends out there who love a GF sweet treat that is top quality and tastes fab!

We have a lot on tap for this year, including more cool events where we can meet with customers in the flesh. Check out the South Florida Gluten Free Expo in West Palm Beach in late February, for instance, where you can meet up with Rachel, or the California Flavors Festival in mid-March- come hang out on the beach with Ricky and Lisa! And more. Make sure to look at our Events and Expos calendar regularly to see if we will be in your area. We love meeting in person and talking with you!

We recently released two four-packs of our little individual cakes: a Fruit Cheesecake Sampler containing two each of our luscious Lemon Zest and Triple Berry Streusel Cheesecakes, and a Chocolate Sampler with two each of our decadent Flourless Chocolate Torte and Mocha Cheesecake. These are exclusive on Amazon, and this month on sale at 25% off, with shipping included.

And later this month you will be able to purchase our brand new four-pack Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes online, too. To be kept in the loop, visit our Facebook page and sign up for our email newsletter. It’s easy!

Finally, this may be our last Blog post for a while, as we are in the process of moving our website to a new host and setting up e-commerce so you can order our desserts online right from that Gem City Fine Foods website. Don’t worry. We’ll make sure you can easily click onto the right site when the time comes- and it is coming soon!

As always, you can reach us at sales@gemcityfinefoods.com, message us on our Facebook page, tweet us on Twitter (@bglutenfree), and see what’s new on Instagram. We are looking forward to a fabulous year with you all. Cheers!

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, as an opportunity to celebrate the generosity of giving. In the five years since, this day has become an American institution, illustrating the good will of people all around the country.

An estimated one percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Alarmingly, it is believed that 83% of those who actually suffer from the disease are un- or mis-diagnosed.

Please consider donating on this day to a related cause, such as the Celiac Disease Foundation, National Celiac Association or a gluten free food bank.

Pumpkin Cheesecake on a Mission

Our friends and loyal customers know that our decadent specialty certified gluten free desserts have been available around the country in smaller chains and independent health and grocery stores for several years, as well as in some of the larger, more well known chains including Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, Safeway and Natural Grocers.

Our Mission is to build the Gem City brand as the premiere provider of delicious gluten-free desserts in the country. As we wade through an extremely competitive industry that is in constant flux, we strive every single day to find new, innovative ways to get what we know are the best gluten free desserts on that market, to more celiac, gluten intolerant and gluten free sweets lovers and their friends and families.

So, we are thrilled to announce a two-week trial run with 16 Costco stores in the Northwest region of the country, including all 10 stores in Utah, as well as stores in Boise, ID, and Seattle, Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkwood and Woodinville, WA. Gluten free dessert lovers in these areas can grab a few of these cheesecakes (which a young fan described as, “As if a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake got married and had a baby!”) from now through Halloween for just $7.49 each, a very affordable price!

We also have the ability to direct ship to stores in the Northeast that have been missing ordering desserts from a major distributor, so celiac and gluten free diners and their families and friends should keep an eye on our Where to Find us page on the website, or give us a call at 385.225.0441 (Rachel) or 385.228.4135 (Lisa) to inquire about stores in their area that may be selling our desserts again!

We maintain our commitment to the celiac and gluten free customer, especially through the holiday season, where sweets are such an important part of celebrations.

costco pumpkin

Hurricanes and Hunger

Our hearts go out to all the people affected by Hurricane Harvey, and we are keeping a close watch on Irma, justy this morning named a Category 2 hurricane.

Of course we all want to help those in need. Agencies, organizations, businesses and private citizens are working together to provide food, clothing and other necessary items and support to those who are displaced.

Feeding America has recognized September as Hunger Action Month for the ninth year in a row, to raise awareness of the 48 million Americans (15 million of them children) who face food insecurity daily, in addition to those victims of the hurricane. The Specialty Food Association has issued again its Embrace Hunger Relief initiative, a competition between members east versus west to volunteer food, time or money to the cause.

And September 13 is designated National Celiac Awareness Day in the US. Consider providing certified gluten free foods in your hunger relief efforts, so those who suffer from celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be fed alongside their peers.

There is a National Gluten-Free Food Bank Movement in Denver, CO, and for our friends in New England, the Celiac Disease Foundation provides a list of gluten free food banks in Massachusetts: https://www.nationalceliac.org/gluten-free-food-bank-participating-pantries/

The University of Chicago reports that about 3 million people in the US, 97% of them as yet undiagnosed, have celiac disease. Regardless of whether a food bank specific to gluten free needs is available in your area, you can rest assured that if you bring certified gluten free foods to your local pantry, they will be appreciated by someone who is hungry and has dietary requirements restricting or prohibiting gluten. And since people who can eat gluten-containing foods can also eat those that are gluten free, everyone wins.

gf pantry

Summertime

Forget those “Back to School” ads you’re already seeing on TV. This is the height of summertime fun- family vacation, summer camp (including celiac and gluten free camps!), playing outside, swimming, travel.

Recently at the Celiac Disease Foundation Expo in Pasadena, CA, we had a lively discussion with a small group of celiac and gluten free friends who surrounded our table, hearing we were proposing a GF dessert option to a large airline catering company serving international customers. “That would be so great!” “It’s almost impossible to eat while flying when you are gluten free!” “I would fly far more often if it were easier to eat while traveling that way.”

If you think about it, no matter where you’re going anymore, to fly there sucks up a day, right? Well, what about when you’re driving the kids to summer camp, or heading out on a big family road trip to celebrate summer vacation? While we at Gem City Fine Foods are already thinking about how we can support our gluten free and celiac customers when school starts again, we hope you are at worst worrying about how you’ll eat on the road, or at best, have figured it out already.

If you are in the first category, then here are some ideas, below. And if you are in the second, please share with us your own successes, in response to this post, or on Facebook, to help others navigate their diagnoses. But most of all, enjoy the rest of your summer! (And be sure to check out our Expos and Events page while traveling, to see if there is an event you can pop into for samples, coupons and goodies.)

– A couple good print resources are the August issue of Gluten-Free Living magazine (“Your Summer Survival Guide”) and the July-August issue of Simply Gluten Free Magazine (“The International Issue”). You’ll find tips for healthy traveling, sending the kids off to camp and day activities, and more in these publications.

– Speaking of summer camp, did you know there are camps for kids who are celiac and gluten free? There are camps around the country: east coast, west coast and in between that may have openings still. Check out the Celiac Disease Foundation, Beyond Celiac, or the Gluten Intolerance Group sites for more information. If you strike out this year, now you are ready to look early next year.

– When playing outside, remember to drink plenty of water, which is gluten free- hooray! And make sure you have healthy gluten free snacks on hand that will refuel you regularly. Some possibilities are nuts, fruits and raw veggies cut up, home-popped popcorn, and yogurt or cheese (“real” vs. processed cheese is safe. Check the label on American or other processed cheeses.) While gluten free foods continue to get a bad rap for the stigma attached to the limited and often yucky tasting options of old, the possibilities are improving. Look for certified gluten free pretzels, crackers or cookies.

And we would be remiss to forget to say if you want a cool sweet treat in the heat of the summertime, look for Gem City Fine Foods certified gluten free cheesecakes, Vegan Chocolate and Carrot Cakes, and signature Flourless Chocolate Torte at your local store, or online at Amazon. Don’t forget to download and print or scan our Summer Coupon, now available on our Specials page, for savings.

 

Just Desserts

Let’s be honest: Dessert is not a necessity. Uhuh… really, it’s not. So, let’s all go without for a while.

Even though I joke about potato chips being my preferred dessert, who doesn’t like a sweet treat once in a while? In fact, I dreamed up this blog post as I sat in my hotel room after the second day of the Celiac Disease Conference and Expo a week and a half ago, munching on a warm chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was not gluten free. I am fortunate to be able to make a wide variety of food choices for myself, whether dessert or otherwise, including those containing wheat and other gluten-containing grains.

So, uh, WTH? The Sales and Marketing Manager for a gluten free- certified bakery neither has a sweet tooth nor is gluten free?

That’s right. But let me explain. I firmly believe that just as I can eat sweet non-gluten free-certified desserts, and do on occasion, those diagnosed with Celiacs Disease or gluten sensitivity should have ample choices for dessert.

This is what excites me about my job with Gem City Fine Foods, especially attending events like the CDF Expo, talking with people, watching their faces as they ENJOY dessert for the first time in… how long? For some of the little ones, EVER. My challenge is to make sure that those who have been diagnosed celiac or gluten sensitive, or who have made gluten free their lifestyle for other health reasons, have easy access to delicious gluten free options for dining. That includes dessert. Because even if it’s not necessary, shouldn’t we all be on an even playing field when it comes to access to a treat?

Gem City Fine Foods is working on increasing distribution across the country through specialty and natural foods distributors and in chain supermarkets as well as independent grocers and health food stores. If you can’t find us in your store, let me know. I’ll look into getting us there. In the meantime, know you can purchase our 6-inch and 10-inch cakes, cheesecakes and chocolate torte on Amazon, and that we are working on increasing our online access for those who prefer that method of purchase.

We are always interested in hearing from you, whether in person at demos, shows and expos, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, by email, or through your comments here in our blog. What would you like to see in our dessert line up? What questions do you have for us? We look forward to talking with you.
Hope to see you around!
Lisa

#bglutenfree #CDFEXPO

Bottom Line: Relieve Hunger

As we gear up for the National Restaurant Show later this week in Chicago, current trends in the restaurant and food service industries leap to mind: sustainable, local, decreasing waste, authentic ethnic, feeding the hungry. It’s no secret that traditional means of purveying food, through supermarkets, restaurants, cafeterias and the like, face increasing competition from online options. More people feel they have less money to spend on dining out, and less time to spend on getting food into their own houses.

At the same time food businesses are looking to save their own bottom lines, they continue to look out for those who must struggle in the regular course of the day to feed themselves and their families, whether locally, nationally or globally.

As a member of the Specialty Food Association, we just received the results of this particular organization’s most recent Embrace Hunger Relief initiative. In April, member companies were challenged, East versus West in a “Hunger Relief Challenge” to work to eliminate hunger around the country. SFA reports a 25% increase in participation since the last Embrace Hunger Relief month, and more than $2300, almost 225 hours, and over 18,000 pounds of food donated in the effort. The next Embrace Hunger Relief month will be in September. Check back to see what we cook up to do our part to help provide food for those in need.

Meanwhile, congrats to the West region for winning the challenge again this time around, and thanks to all those organizations, companies and foundations out there working to eliminate hunger right here in the United States, and around the world!

How we get from UT to YOU

Spring and fall are big trade show and expo seasons for Gem City Fine Foods. Recently we were in Orem, UT, for the My Gluten Free World Expo, and soon will travel to Chicago for the National Restaurant Association Show, and then Pasadena, CA, for the Celiac Disease Foundation Conference and Expo.

It’s interesting to talk with people from different perspectives about our specialty certified gluten free desserts. Celiac and gluten free expo attendees get really excited to taste “real” desserts again when they sample our torte, cakes and cheesecakes, and just want access. On the other hand, helping those who deliver desserts to the customer (distributors, retail stores) can be a real challenge if those making the decisions aren’t celiac or gluten free themselves. Read: There is a disconnect that makes us scratch our heads. We get both sides… we think.

Just how do we get our desserts from our dedicated gluten free bakery in Utah to YOU?

First, yes, of course Amazon is an option. Can’t you buy just about everything but love on Amazon these days, or through similar sites like Jet.com? We ship directly from the bakery to your home or workplace, so when you order on Amazon, you know we truly are behind the cake. Once you place an order, we receive that via email, package your goodies with ice packs, print out a shipping label and send the box away in your direction. Without a doubt, this is the pricier way to get your desserts. But in some instances, it’s the only way.

The primary way you get access to Gem City desserts is by walking into a local store and purchasing. But not every store in the country carries them. Why is that? Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as calling a manager, sending samples, and “getting in.” (Although this can work sometimes.)

There is a “middle man” in the form of a distribution company, which brings the desserts from the bakery to a warehouse, and then on to the retail store. We use two large distributors to move most of our products, and space considerations and competition are very real, especially in frozen shipping and storage. A distributor or retail buyer may fall in love with our product, but not have room in the freezer – or in the fridge once at the store.

Brands and products do come and go. Distributors and retailers discontinue underperforming products on a regular basis, freeing up space for a new product. So, if the timing is right, and the buyer likes Gem City desserts, we may get a phone call that our desserts have been accepted. Major distributors require a minimum weekly amount of product to move through their warehouses, and stores like to know that there is product available in the warehouses from which they order. This presents a bit of a Catch-22. We work with both retail and distribution decision makers to find ways to get our desserts into warehouses and then on to stores and ultimately into your mouth.

In the meantime, if you want to see Gem City Fine Foods in a store near you, please reach out to both the store manager and to our Sales and Marketing Manager Lisa. You can reach her at sales@gemcityfinefoods.com. This is an easy enough email address to remember to share with your store manager. And if you reach out to us with contact information for your store, we will respond. And don’t give up; we haven’t. Celiac and gluten intolerance are diagnosed more easily and frequently than in the past. You need options, and you drive that market. The future is yours.

There. That is how we get from UT to YOU.