On Tuesday afternoon St Luke’s was honoured to host a talk given by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne – the founder of Genius Gluten Free. Talking to members of St Luke’s and Genius’s partner agencies, Lucinda gave an inspiring presentation on the foundation of the company and what drove her to succeed.
Lucinda first outlined her own remarkable history: a degree in physiology followed by training to be a Michelin-starred chef, before going on to spend 4 years writing the definitive work the ‘Leiths Techniques Bible’. A self-proclaimed ‘scientist-at-heart’, she was fascinated by the functional elements of ingredients: why do we use double cream over single cream for whipping? What does flour do in a white sauce? But it wasn’t until two of her children were diagnosed with severe allergies to wheat, dairy, and egg that Lucinda felt inspired to alter her food focus from the functional to the creative.
In the early 2000’s gluten-free substitutes were scarce – bread in particular was not only expensive (at maybe £7 per loaf), but low quality, with retailers demanding long shelf lives to offset the low stock turnover. Lucinda realised that there was a whole community in existence who, like her children, were prevented from consuming many of the wheat products that form much of our diet – a community that was deprived of one of the most basic food stuffs in existence: bread.
And so Lucinda began to develop what would in time become the Genius Loaf. Her family became her guinea pigs as she baked hundreds of different loaf recipes over the course of 3 years. It was without doubt an uphill struggle; gluten is almost a vital ingredient in bread, and replacing its function takes a deep understanding of the scientific processes of baking, as well as a developed palate.
It took hundreds of kilos of flour and thousands of determined hours to finally produce something that satisfied her family’s hunger and her own rigorous standards. Lucinda described to us some of the reactions that she had witnessed when coeliacs had tried the bread for the first time. From sheer incredulity to tears, the Genius Loaf was genuinely life-changing for those who had thought bread a forbidden fruit.
And so Genius was born, a company that has grown over the past 8 years in accordance with its ambition and determination. Ensuring that every person who can’t eat gluten is able to enjoy the pleasure of bread has been the mantra and the starting point for the rapid expansion of the past few years.
The future bodes well: in September, St Luke’s campaign for Genius will launch across social, digital, and press (with the shoot taking place this week – watch this space). Not only that, but Lucinda assured us there are several new products in the pipeline. There’s a lot to be excited about with this life-changing brand, and we are delighted to be a part of it.