Rene Trim’s Arts & Crafts: Gluten Free Utopia

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When possible, eat dessert first..

‘Life is Good:  Eat, Drink, & Enjoy Life! When possible, eat dessert first.’  Words Ottawa native Samantha Maloney used to live by. However, as food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances started to creep into her life, a new mantra appeared: ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’. Despite the food issues, long-time baker Samantha’s love for cooking and baking never wavered and substitutions for the ingredients that caused the issues were found. Initially, Kamut (also known as Khorasan wheat or Oriental wheat) and spelt were an easy wheat replacement in baking, but 10 years later more dietary issues arose and gluten became the enemy.

Diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Samantha had to put her baking on hold. Although she managed to find some gluten-free baked goods here and there, they didn’t taste very good and were really expensive. Samantha knew she could do better so, when a friend and former pastry chef suggested they combine their talents, Bez Gluten Free Bakery was born.

For the next year, the ladies attended craft shows and began expanding their repertoire. After Bez became a solo venture and continued to grow, Samantha decided to end her 15-year career in teaching, and put more time and energy into her business.

Gluten-Free UtopiaFor the average consumer it wasn’t always easy to find the right resources so Samantha made it her business to educate as well as to assist them. One day she came across ‘Gluten Free Garage’ an informal gluten-free trade show in Toronto that centred on local businesses. With the blessing to copy the idea for Ottawa and after months of research and preparations, in April 2014 Samantha launched ‘Gluten Free Utopia’,  the first stand-alone gluten-free trade show to take place in the National Capital Region.

Thanks to the help of family and friends – as well as a team of dedicated volunteers – GFU turned out to be  a resounding success. Over 800 visitors attended the inaugural show to see 34 vendors and their products and/or services. Celiac Disease (and being gluten-free) doesn’t just centre on bread and baked goods, it includes all aspects of life and health, and so Samantha ensured there were a variety of vendors at the expo. Of course there were bakers, but GFU also showcased vendors of skin care and cosmetics, spices, meat, specialty foods, pet food, and yes, even beer. Add in naturopaths, nutritionists, pharmacists, caterers, and restaurants and there was a great deal of variety as well as ample opportunities to purchase newly-discovered items and old favourites. The event truly struck a chord with Ottawa residents, who will be delighted to hear GFU will be back! As we speak, Samantha is busy organizing the second edition of GFU, which will take place on May 31st from 10am-4pm at the Ukrainian Banquet Hall. More info can be found on GFU’s website

This weekend’s events

She CreatesThis Saturday,  as part of Kingston’s International Women’s Week, 80 local vendors will come together for ‘She Creates One of a Kind’. The event aims to recognize women who are just starting out on their own business ventures as well as those with established business, in order for women to form partnerships and learn from each other.

The event will be held at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, 53 Yonge Street, Kingston  from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is free. In support of Kingston Interval House, HIV/AIDS Regional Services and Sexual Assault Centre Kingston. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

Also this Saturday, and a little closer to home, the C.A.B. Expo (Crafters, Artisans and Businesses) will be held at the Cumberland Arena Hall, 1115 Dunning Road in Cumberland from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free so come out and support local!

C.A.B. Expo

That’s all for now – have a creative week, folks!


Rene Trim

Rene is the chair of the executive committee of the Ottawa Valley Crafts and Collectibles (OVCC) Guild. The OVCC organizes art & craft shows featuring local artists and artisans from the Ottawa Valley.

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