Nigel and Val’s accountant, Mick, came to the cafe for a meeting and brought his wife. Like most cafes, Because I Like It in Bakewell kept a loaf of gluten free bread for if anyone required it, although most of the time it ran out of date and Val and Nigel took it home to use. On this occasion, Mick was coeliac and asked if the soup was gluten free, which it was. When it came down with gluten free bread on the side, his wife, Sue, said that so often places would say the soup is gluten free and then stick an ordinary wheat roll on the side. (I’m glad to say that caterers ar far more educated now)
Sue then went on to say that even if Mick could find a savoury dish to eat, he could only have a pre-packaged brownie for dessert. Nigel and Val rather guiltily realised that they also could only offer mass produced pre-packaged cakes and biscuits, even though their other cakes were either home-made or from a local bakery.
They discovered a lady, 20 miles away, who baked the most delicious chocolate cake that they had ever tasted – and it was gluten free! Nigel did the return journey once a week to buy one of these cakes, which was proudly displayed, well covered, and labelled as gluten free. Nigel and Val put on loads of weight as it didn’t sell.
The cafe chef and Nigel insisted that Val take off the gluten free label, but Val refused. It paid off. Gradually, it began to sell. In fact it was so good that everyone was having it, not just those needing gluten free cakes. As it was very expensive to buy, even without the petrol costs, and Val would not charge any more for it than the ‘normal’ cakes, they were soon making quite a loss on it.
At the same time, the chef had been charged with the challenge of improving some of the cakes he had been baking. Val can be quite a harsh critic and the poor chef made many attempts at the Bakewell tart before she and Nigel exclaimed ‘Perfect! You’ve got it!’ but then added ‘Now make it gluten free’.
The chef, Mark, rose to the challenge and produced an identically good gluten free tart on his first attempt. This won 2 gold stars at the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards. No mean feat.
This was followed by a lemon drizzle – which Val set him the standard of being as good as, or better than her mum’s. This was quite a challenge as Mark had never tasted her mum’s cake and due to disabilities, her mum was no longer able to make it. However, his first attempt produced the 2 gold star, award winning lemon drizzle cake that he still makes today.