Gluten-free bakery fills a void in Calgary’s food scene

Rich Adams never thought he would become a baker but life takes unexpected turns.

About 10 years ago Adams was misdiagnosed with lupus. One day he ate a bagel with peanut butter (back then a typical breakfast for him) and found himself on the wrong side of a massive coronary. It took six months to discover he was anaphylactic.

Peanuts wheat shellfish — for anaphylactics there are all sorts of dangers out there. For Adams his number one enemy was wheat.

Around the time of his diagnosis he began working in various clubs around town moving from Ming to the relaunched Republik to tending bar at the Drum and Monkey. When the opportunity to open his own bar came along Milk Tiger was born.

From day one Milk Tiger was a bar with gluten-free bread on the menu and once the owners discovered GF Patisserie in Cochrane the entire menu went gluten-free. The feedback was nothing but positive.

A few months later GF Patisserie owner Victoria Edlinger put her bakery up for sale. Adams made inquiries and he and business partner/Milk Tiger chef Liam Millard decided to take a chance and buy it. Adams went to Cochrane every day for six months to train as a baker under Edlinger’s tutelage and when she finally left the business Adams and Millard closed the Cochrane location and brought the bakery to Calgary.

Big Star Bake House open since October offers 100 per cent gluten-free fare (meaning there is no cross-contamination) including breads (flax cinnamon raisin Italian cheese) pizza shells hamburger buns and baked goods.

And there are plenty of treats to be had for discerning celiacs and non-celiacs alike. Big Star whips up cookies lemon loaf coffee cake butter tarts and muffins daily not to mention tasty variations of quiche.

For those with a special occasion in mind you can contact Big Star general manager Mike Bressanutti to order custom gluten-free birthday cakes and cheesecakes.

Regulars can expect seasonal treats too — if you’re looking for a mini pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or shortbread at Christmas you can count on Big Star to bake up your holiday favourites.

In March Big Star will start serving New York-style box lunches complete with sandwich fruit and a drink plus six-inch gluten-free pizzas. Big Star products are now available at Blue Star Diner and Dairy Lane Cafe with more commercial clients to come.