Whether suffering from celiac disease, a very serious autoimmune condition that has increased four-fold over the last 60 years, or exhibiting symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, recent studies show that nearly twenty million people regularly experience distress after eating products that contain gluten. What’s more, a third of American adults say that they are trying to eliminate the protein from their diets.
Luckily, the restaurant and foodservice industries have taken notice—how could they not? One study tracking American restaurant trends found that customers ordered more than two hundred million dishes in 2013 that were gluten- or wheat-free.
On the flipside, though? Sadly, a lot of those gluten-free products don’t taste very good.
Enter Lena Kwak, the Research and Development Chef for The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s world-famous restaurant in Yountville, CA. Taking up the gluten-free challenge, Chef Kwak--with the input from other seasoned peers--developed a gluten-free flour that, the story goes, literally brought a guest to tears upon biting into a gluten-free brioche, her first taste of real bread in seven years. It was then that Chef Kwak and her mentor, Chef Keller, realized that there was a much greater need for the larger gluten-free community that was not being met.
And so Cup4Cup LLC was born, a company dedicated to delivering gluten-free flour that doesn’t taste gluten-free.
The brainchild of Chef Kwak, Cup4Cup offers two great alternative flour choices: Original Flour Blend, a one-to-one, all-purpose flour substitute that lets users bake gluten-free cookies, muffins, cakes, cupcakes and breads, not to mention gluten-free sauces and pasta, and Wholesome Flour Blend, which isn’t just gluten-free, but also dairy-free, certified non-GMO and highly nutritious, boasting flaxseeds, rice bran, Omega-3 fatty acids and whole grains.
“Five years ago at The French Laundry, when gluten-free was just emerging,” says Chef Kwak, now Chief Executive Officer of Cup4Cup LLC, “we took a good, hard look at the category in order to offer our guests what they needed. And from that experience we began to notice that, within the gluten-free market, there weren’t any premium products focused on taste. To give up gluten is to give up breads. And so, if someone has to give up something so basic, so prevalent, we want to make sure the sacrifice didn’t feel too overwhelming. Cup for cup, we want to ensure there’s no difference in taste between gluten and non-gluten flour. Because nothing is so sad as the thought that people have family recipes they’ll never be able to share with the people they love because of sensitivity to wheat flour.”
Cup4Cup didn’t just stop at flour alternative, though. The company also offers a Pancake and Waffle Mix, a Brownie Mix and a Pizza Crust Mix, each one chef-crafted to ensure the perfect taste and texture without the extra effort and ingredients and the lack of genuine flour texture and taste that tend to spoil other gluten-free alternatives.
“How great is it for a child to know that his entire family is eating the same [gluten-free] pancakes?” continues Chef Kwak. “Food is such a social thing. Being able to provide tools to bring people together feels incredible. What could be better than a child finally able to take a [gluten-free] birthday cake to class to share for the first time?”
Cup4Cup’s Gluten Free Wholesome Flour Blend received a 2015 FABI Award, the NRA’s coveted acknowledgement of food and beverage products that go above and beyond to bring delicious, unique, and exciting new experiences to the table.