A week and a half ago my Mom showed me an article in the Toronto Star about an upcoming gluten free event happening in Toronto called Gluten Free Garage. Skeptically, I read the article. I had heard about other gluten free expos and exhibits happening around the city before, but was always hugely disappointed after discovering the vendors only sold mass-produced and highly processed gluten free crap! I had no desire to ever attend an event like that, so I read that article with little hope in my heart. But the more I read about the Gluten Free Garage, the more excited I got. When I read the list of exhibitors online, I immediately marked November 11th in my calendar because this was one event that I was not going to miss!
You see the inaugural Gluten Free Garage was something more. An event to truly bring the community together to celebrate and learn about new gluten free products and vendors in the city. People who care about the ingredients that they put into their products. RonniLyn Pustil’s “pop-up gluten free marketplace” was a FANTASTIC event! The Artscape Wychwood Barns was the perfect backdrop. With over 40 exhibitors, music playing, kids laughing and an overarching sense of happiness, this was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
The Gluten Free Garage stood out in many ways. The most obvious being the quality of the exhibitors – one of the key reasons behind RonniLyn’s thinking in organizing this event. We’re talking about locally sourced and handmade products. The exhibitors were friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to help. Since I’m also soy free, I was pleasantly surprised with their willingness to cater to other allergies as well. If I came across a cupcake that was made with soy icing, several times I was met with offers to place a special order where they could make them soy free for me. Their philosophy being that everyone should be able to eat delicious cupcakes, safely.
Both visitors and exhibitors alike were exclaiming how great of an event it was! It truly speaks volumes about RonniLyn and her team of volunteers that the exhibitors were speaking so highly of the event and how well everything was organized. Exhibitors were provided with fruit, snacks and volunteers were constantly serving them coffee throughout the day as well. It’s a nice feeling to be part of something so special.
Some highlights for me:
- My favourite new treat that I discovered were KEO Confiserie’s salted caramels (which are to die for!) No words can describe their perfect combination of sweet and salty, soft and chewy. Irresistible, maybe. My mind is already cranking, thinking of when I can buy them as party favours!
- I chatted to Stacey Burgess of Live On Chocolate about her recent trip to Belize and exclaiming over the cacao pods she had on display. Did I mention that her raw chocolate is really good?! So were her power puddings…I’m excited that I now know they are both on sale at The Big Carrot!
- There were samples galore, but like real good samples. Picture forkfuls of brisket covered in gluten free BBQ sauce from The Healthy Butcher. Flavours that made me feel like I was eating smoked BBQ down south in Tennessee. Hearty soups, salsa verde with homemade nacho chips, granola and freshly pressed digestive juices. And if you weren’t full enough from all the samples and butter tarts and cookies that you were buying, there were some exhibitors that were also cooking up delicious foods! I indulged in a slice of cheese pizza from Magic Oven! Yes, you read correctly: I said I ate a slice of delicious gluten free pizza! What a treat!
By the end of the day, my Gluten Free Garage bag was overflowing with Bunner’s Supersonic Gypsy Cookies, raw wraps from Live organic food bar, corn tortillas from Alba Lisa, three types of sausages from Mark’s Nearly Famous Gourmet Sausages, butter tarts, BBQ sauce, chocolates, salted caramels, and a handful of coupons, business cards and informational pamphlets. I am so happy that I discovered a lot of new products, met a lot of interesting people and ate a lot of great food!
Before I ventured home, I simply couldn’t miss thanking RonniLyn in person for such a spectacular event. Thank you, thank you! The gluten free community needed this. I am glad that there are so many people who understand how much better and healthier real, natural, homemade food tastes. The Gluten Free Garage was a hit and I can’t wait to see how it surpasses itself next year!