Local Oven baguette
There’s No Gluten…and No One Knows.
That’s the motto of Local Oven, a 100% gluten-free manufacturing facility based out of Carrollton, Texas. They’re new to the market, but don’t let that deter you from thinking you won’t encounter their products soon – they’re growing faster than the weeds in my lawn in June.
What is the reason for their success? In my opinion, it has to do with that motto above – they live up to it. They provide gluten-free baked goods that are superior in texture and taste to every other gluten-free product on the market, so much so that even gluten-eaters exclaim “THIS is gluten-free?!” when trying their buns. I know. I did a trial myself.
I met Todd Fitzerman, Director of Sales at Local Oven, back when I attended the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo last October. I sampled their product then and was impressed. Now that they’ve settled into their new facility in Carrollton and are really ramping up their production, I thought it was more than time for me to sample all they had to offer (many of their products are dairy-free as well) and share it with you all. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how much I’d enjoy everything.
Local Oven started selling their products on a large scale in January 2012. In that short time frame, they are already selling in more than 100 locations, including restaurants, hospitals, schools, and public venues. They are distributed by Fresh Point, Ben E Keith, and Sysco, and are continuing to grow. Their products are also available to the general public.
What do they sell? All your previously gluten-free favorites! Six different varieties of baguettes, nine different varieties of biscotti, hamburger (with or without sesame seeds) and hot dog buns, two varieties of pita pockets/flatbreads, and Italian and plain breadcrumbs. You can purchase any quantity you wish, and each item is individually sealed, keeping your item fresh and protected from any cross-contamination until you’re ready to eat or until the chef at the restaurant is ready to prepare your meal.
But as we’ve discussed before, being provided a safe gluten-free meal is more than just simply providing a gluten-free bun for a burger. Local Oven understands that, and they emphasize the need for fresh gloves, fresh utensils, separate cutting boards, etc. They stress a safe dining experience for the gluten sensitive guest. Vacuum-sealing each product individually not only helps the product remain fresh, it also helps to minimize cross-contamination. They do what they can to help educate these restaurants about the needs of a gluten-free consumer.
I’ve both encountered great success with their products personally, and seen evidence of it in our area. I visited a Scotty P’s restaurant, one of the locations featuring Local Oven hamburger buns, and ordered myself a hamburger. Of course, I still gave the guy at the counter my usual “please ensure my meal is safe” speech, but what arrived was a burger. On a bun. One that was delicious and looked totally normal! What a delight, if I do say so myself. I’ve also seen that the Gluten Intolerance Group of Greater Dallas recently visited Bavarian Grill, another location featuring Local Oven products and a gluten-free menu. There’s no question that word is getting out about these products!
Local Oven takes great care to ensure that their manufacturing facility is totally free from gluten as well. It’s new, clean, and spacious, and not a speck of gluten enters. Their mill and blender factories that supply their ingredients are dedicated 100% gluten-free. If you have any questions at all about their products or their processes, they’re happy to oblige. I was even allowed to tour the facilities myself!
Local Oven kitchen, where the magic happens!
Local Oven buns, fresh from the oven, ready to be packaged
Local Oven meeting room – lots of room to brainstorm!
Why do they do what they do? Linda Fitzerman, the founder of Local Oven, suffers from gluten intolerance. It’s wonderful that she was able to understand the reason behind her health issues, but she longed for those familiar baked goods she enjoyed before going gluten-free. Since she was dissatisfied with what was available on the market, she opted to go out on her own and create a product that was as good, or even better, than the original gluten-containing versions.
I would say she succeeded. Check it out:
homemade black bean mushroom burger on a Local Oven bun (and eggplant fries using Local Oven breadcrumbs!)
Local Oven pita stuffed with spinach, bell pepper, sprouts, and tahini
Local Oven hot dog bun, treated like a roll, with dairy-free margarine
Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying my little share of Local Oven products lately! Their breads are fluffy and light (no bricks-for-bread here!) and have that delicious chewy texture that is often missing in gluten-free products. In fact, I was so impressed with their buns, I opted to order enough for our Memorial Day crawfish boil/barbecue we held at our home. Typically at these kind of events, there are regular hamburger or hot dog buns served, and a precious few gluten-free buns for those in my family with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. However, those buns aren’t all that excellent, and not everyone can enjoy them (a great many contain corn and some of my family has corn sensitivities as well). This way, every person that attended our little party could enjoy a bun, and there were no gluten-y crumbs to worry about. The best part, however, was when a friend made herself a sandwich full of smoked meat and barbecue sauce on a Local Oven bun, bit into it, and exclaimed “THIS is gluten-free?”
Todd shared with me that it’s wonderful that the restaurant owners he works with can’t distinguish his product from a gluten-full product based on texture and taste. When a customer can be served chicken Parmesan and it is every bit as good as the regular dish – that is what makes the difference. Or his favorite – when a customer at a restaurant sends the meal back to the kitchen, tells the waiter that he has made a mistake, because the bun tastes too good to be gluten-free, and the chef then has to come out and say “Yes, it IS gluten-free!” – Ladies and gentlemen, that is the true measure of success.
I have no doubt that Local Oven will continue to grow and become a nationwide, well-known brand fairly quickly. They’re brainstorming new products and listening to their customers. They’ve just scratched the surface. I, for one, am excited to see what the future might bring! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to make myself a burger…