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Milestones

This morning we received a card announcing our 5th year anniversary as a member of the Specialty Food Association. A handwritten card. How nice is that these days? A token of appreciation and partnership that means a lot, especially as Lisa and Rachel prepare to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City this coming weekend. In fact, this gesture we received in the mail today almost overshadowed the item we received over the weekend: Our sofi Award trophy!

So far, 2018 has been a fabulous year, not just because our signature Flourless Chocolate Torte was recognized with a Bronze Medal in the Gluten Free Category by the SFA sofi judges. We have grown our ability to reach celiac and gluten sensitive customers almost twofold, through our distributors, Amazon and the connections that shows, expos and social media can create. In fact, we are thrilled to be working with bloggers Life After Wheat, My Gluten Free Miami and Vegetarian Mamma, and podcaster Elikquitie of Travel Gluten Free to bring you updates and goodies you can win. Once we go live with Perishable Shipping Solutions after the 4th of July holiday, we will be even better poised to get our desserts to more people in pristine frozen or cold condition. And soon you will be able to click on our website to order straight from there, as well as on Jet.com, for those who prefer that online shopping platform.

We have gone nut free (except, we like to joke, for those of us employees who are still allowed to stick around.) And we are in the throes of product development so we can bring you new offerings in deluscious certified gluten free desserts. In fact, our fantastic Baker Whitney delivered a tray of cakes to management meeting for us to try, including a Carrot Cake we believe will be an improvement in moisture content after freezing, and a soy milk free Vegan Chocolate Cake that is amazing! When finalized, this will put us even closer to eliminating food allergens from our desserts.

We will keep you posted as we add stores and products to our repertoire, all with the mission in mind: We will become the premier provider of certified gluten free desserts in the United States. If you have an idea for a new product, be in touch. And if you would like to see our desserts made available in your favorite store, share the request you see here on this post with your store manager. We can work together to live our mission at Gem City Fine Foods to provide you with the treats you want to eat!

We Love Reviews!

We received this feedback postcard in the mail today, and it made me think to put it out there: We love reviews. Not just because when they are great, we feel happy, but because there is always some information we can use to improve our products or customer service. Even a great review reminds us that we may be doing well, but that’s no reason to sit back and think we can’t do better.

For instance, you may know our products are available on Amazon. (Just click on the icon on our website to visit and order.) We ship frozen, and include a postcard just like the one you see here. But our desserts have not always arrived nice and cold, or still frozen, and in lovely condition. Over the past couple years we have learned a lot from customer feedback, have dropped one option for shipping, and have invested a lot of time, money and thought into packaging materials that will allow us to get that gluten free treat to you anywhere in the continental US, ready to eat.

In fact, we are excited to say we are partnering with Perishable Shipping Solutions to improve on our shipping to you, including moving to a new package that is recyclable and breaks down in water for a much more environmentally friendly package than the styrofoam we have used in the past. The Eastern part of the country will now receive orders from the PSS facility in Ohio, while the Western region will continue to receive orders straight from our bakery in Utah. This will allow us to reduce shipping time- and costs, passing the savings on to the customer, and increase the likelihood that packages will arrive frozen or cold.

So, when you order from Amazon, please send us that postcard. It will only take you a few minutes to complete, and it will give us a chance to consider how we might further improve our products and customer service. And please complete a review right on Amazon to help us get feedback and to help other celiac or gluten free dessert lovers find a treat they love.

And if you buy our desserts at a store, or try them at a demo or expo, and love them, please review us on our Facebook page. We add these reviews to our website and to our testimonials page, which we print out to give to potential buyers. Showing buyers how mcuh the customer likes our desserts increases the possibility that down the road you may find us in more stores, at your school, in a local restaurant… Who knows?

Finally, we are happy to say our Baker, Whitney, is now able to devote more time in the kitchen to new product development and current product improvement. That means more sweet choices for the customer! Let us know by email or phone call (see our Contact page for how to get in touch) what new certified gluten free frozen dessert you’d like to be able to enjoy.

And thank you for your feedback!
Lisa

News for June

We are back from our second trip to the National Restaurant Association Show, where this year we talked with even more people who are celiac, gluten sensitive, or for other reasons eat gluten free. It’s eye opening to attend a trade show and meet people who want to talk personally about their own experiences, outside of professional discussion of goods and services. These conversations further solidify our commitment to gluten free.

In June we will go “live” with Perishable Shipping Solutions, a company from Ohio, to fulfill Amazon and direct ship orders to the eastern half of the US. Speaking of trade show connections, we met Mark of PSS at the New England Food Show in Boston in February and have been working with him and his team to make it easier and safer to ship frozen to our customers back east. Combined with our ability to fill orders in-house from our bakery in West Valley, UT, we will now be able to send frozen certified GF tasty desserts 2-day to most of the country! We are really looking forward to this partnership.

As you know, we are now a nut free facility. By early in June you should be able to see our Carrot Cake and Triple Berry Streusel Cheesecake sans almonds or pecans, in most stores. We consider this milestone to be the next step in accommodating those with food allergies, and will then tackle the soy milk in our Vegan Chocolate Cake. Keep your eyes peeled for this next development. We hope to be able to say that cake has no soy by the time the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABblog Con) rolls around in November.

In June our show schedule cools down quite a bit, though CEO/ Sales and Marketing Manager Lisa and Office Assistant Rachel will attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City later in the month. We are thrilled to be able to present our sofi Bronze-winning Flourless Chocolate Torte at a sofi winners Meet and Greet that Saturday! We also have been invited to have lunch with a Rabbi who lives in New York, who will introduce us to the steps involved in Kosher certification. This is another path we have discussed for a while and will finally pursue. More after the show!

Finally, June 30 is the last day to use our Spring 2018 manufacturer coupon, which you can download from our Specials page and print or pull up on your mobile phone at checkout. There are plenty of demos scheduled during the next month, around the Salt Lake City area in particular, where you can pick up coupons and try samples, too. Check out our Events and Expos page for dates, times and locations. Denver dates will be added soon. Look for our Summer coupon on July 1.

Blogs and Things

I had the pleasure this week of meeting several people we have worked with over the past few years, face-to-face.  Many of the people with whom I met had been names in emails, or voices on the phone. A face applied to a conversation can make a huge difference in comfort level when communicating. At least for me. In one meeting, a sales rep joked about working with bloggers: “Do you sit across from each other and email each other?” I likened the scenario to walking down the street, or across campus in the small city where I live, and seeing three young people abreast, all walking together as a group, but each texting someone else not there at the same time.

I won’t say how old I am, but I will let you in on a secret: I used to aim to live to 100; however, as quickly as “times change,” I no longer strive for that goal. I can barely keep up with technological advances in communication, and certainly cannot use tech to its fullest capacity. I’m lucky I can remember how to press the correct button to write a new blog entry weekly.

What does any of this have to do with gluten free yummy desserts? Well, here you are, reading a blog post on your computer or mobile phone. You have probably clicked on other of our web pages, or our Facebook page, or have checked out our Instagram or Twitter account. Maybe you have even “liked” or are “following” us. If that is the case, I would like to point you to our latest collaboration, to get the word, and the goods, out to celiac, gluten sensitive and food allergic people around the country:

We have begun to work with food bloggers in Utah, the Midwest and Florida, and have teamed up to offer Gem City Fine Foods giveaways in honor of Celiac Awareness Month. If you follow There Is Life After Wheat, Vegetarian Mamma, or GF Miami, you will see that you can enter to win any of a number of product prizes we are giving away. We love working with these bloggers, who offer all sorts of tips, ideas, news- and mouthwatering photos, too!- to those of you with dietary restrictions, including celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Also, recently I was interviewed by Elikqitie for a segment in her new podcast Travel Gluten Free. If you are a podcast listener, check out her new venture!

I hope  you will look up the blogs and podcasts I mentioned above, and take advantage of other food blog opportunities to keep informed and safe and healthy. And check in with us here or by email or phone with your questions and suggestions.

Thank you.

Lisa

 

Why Dedicated Is Good.

When we talk with buyers about the potential of carrying our certified gluten free desserts, we mention not only that our products are certified gluten free by GFCO, but also that they are baked in a dedicated gluten free (and now nut free) facility. Why is this important?

The recent recall of waffles that were distributed in 11 states as gluten free and were later found to contain gluten, undeclared wheat and undeclared milk, is one example of how something can go wrong. The wrong waffles were packaged in boxes denoting gluten free waffles. We bake our desserts in a dedicated facility quite simply because people make mistakes. We believe it’s worthwhile to eliminate as many opportunities as possible for making a mistake that could really harm someone with gluten or nut allergies. One way to do that is to make sure we are baking only gluten free and nut free products in our bakery. That reduces room for confusion.

As part of our gluten free and SQF Level 2 food safety certifications, we implement many procedures that reduce the risk of harm to the end consumer. These measures include separation and prominent labeling of allergens (we do use eggs, dairy and soy in various products) to avoid cross contamination, label checks in our packaging room to avoid mislabeling products, regular testing for gluten, allergen proteins and listeria, and more. If  you have questions about our ingredients, food safety practices, or other concerns, please give us a call or send an email. We do care about your health and well being. And like everyone, we make mistakes. So we do what we can to limit the possibility of making one that could affect you.

May is Celiac Awareness Month, and more at Gem City!

May is Celiac Awareness Month. Who cares? We do. About one in 100 people around the world has Celiac Disease, and many more are gluten intolerant. Far from being a “fad” that is on it’s way out, the gluten free diet is a necessary response to a crippling autoimmune condition. We believe in speaking up for those who suffer, and doing our best to bring delicious certified gluten free desserts to those who have limited choices and deserve to enjoy food as much as anyone else. That is why a large part of our presence in the food community is educating buyers who may not understand Celiac and gluten sensitivity, as we work toward our mission of becoming the premier provider of top quality delicious gluten free desserts in the United States.

The Celiac Disease Foundation has put together a short primer on 9 Fast Facts About Celiac Disease, which you can find at this link: https://celiac.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Celiac-Disease-Fast-Facts-Infographic-1.pdf

If you or a friend or family member has recently been diagnosed, or you want to help others understand your own case, this little info sheet can be useful. And speaking of the Celiac Disease Foundation, we will be participating in the CDF Expo again this year in Pasadena, this coming weekend. Check out our Events and Expos page for details, and if you will be there, stop in to visit Rachel to tell your story, ask questions and sample our desserts.

Mother’s Day also falls in May. This is a time to celebrate and honor our mothers and the moms who have inspired us. If you live in Utah or Boise, look for our 6-inch Triple Berry Streusel Cheesecake at one of the following Costco stores, especially for this occasion: Orem, Sandy, West Valley, Murray, South Jordan, Spanish Fork, Boise. Please understand, to revert to our first topic, expanding access takes time, and sometimes education. We are thrilled to be working with Costco NW region to provide local (made in Utah, proud member Utah’s Own) AND certified gluten free desserts in several stores, and encourage you to go out and purchase, and to help get the word out, so that we can show the gluten free community is looking for affordable options. The NW Region buying team at Costco has been fantastic to work with over the past several months, and we look forward to more opportunities with them in the future!

Just a couple other notes from our end:
– If you haven’t heard, our signature Flourless Chocolate Torte (available in three sizes) was honored with a Bronze in the Specialty Food Association sofi Awards in the Gluten Free category. Look for the Torte in stores and on Amazon, in individual 3-inch and shareable 6-inch size.

– We are now officially nut free. We removed all nuts from the facility, donating a case each of pecans and almonds to Utah Food Bank, and began nut free production in April. By early June you should start seeing our Carrot Cake and our Triple Berry Cheesecake arrive in stores with no nuts. We believe it a natural extension of our commitment to those with food allergies, to remove nuts from our products and from our bakery. We hope you agree!

Remember to check out our website Events and Expos page for upcoming events, the Specials page for a downloadable manufacturer coupon, and our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts for all the latest from our certified gluten free bakery!

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.

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