The Story Behind Sea Salt Bakery

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1. What is The Story Behind Sea Salt Bakery? What inspired you to open this business?
“I’ve always had a strange relationship with food, meaning I always felt there was something wrong with my digestive system. I’ve always had issues with dairy (cow’s milk, cheese cutter, cream) for example, and throughout my teenage years I suffered symptoms I could not understand the root cause of, no matter how much I medicated. so you could say it was destined for me to get to a point in my mid-20’s where my body just said “ENOUGH” ! I fell very ill in 2013 with an autoimmune disease which attacked my thyroid gland, leaving it under-active and therefore leaving me extremely weak and unable to live a “normal” energetic life. It was then where I decided to take control of my health, get myself checked on food allergies/intolerances, found out I had a wheat & dairy allergy and voila! I began to cut out all gluten, dairy & even refined sugar & from there my healing journey began. So it didn’t start out as a business decision at all! The decision to change my lifestyle, start baking gluten free, vegan bread & pastries was very much a personal choice. Sea Salt Bakery started out as an extension of my own life really, it was a way to help people who could not find a gluten free substitute to basic foods in their daily lives such as bread & pastries.”

2. What sets SSB apart from other places that offer healthy food options?
“Essentially we are a bakery where you can find different types of Breads like toast, baguettes, loaves, sourdough toasts, burger buns & of course there’s pastries such as croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins (choc, banana, date), brownies, chocolate Eclairs, Cakes (many flavors from carrot to apple pie cakes, coffee cake,), Cookies – Now, think of all that but Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan and without Refined sugar! It’s the only Cafe that serves the healthy alternatives to all gluten-based products, dairy milk and processed foods.
It’s the place where people come for our special coffee, our eclairs, our veggie burger, homemade ravioli, French toast. When you eat it at the cafe you won’t find it made the same way anywhere else and that’s guaranteed. People in the cafe have become regulars, turning into friends, and it’s a pleasure to serve people clean food and give them a place where it’s safe to eat for anyone.”

3. We’ve heard that you’re a certified baker? How did that come about?
“When I first discovered I had food allergies, I honestly did not know where to start with substituting bread. On top of that, it was impossible to find any source of information or guidance in Egypt or even the Middle East. I spent a lot of time doing massive research online to gluten free baking and discovering recipes that really do work (most baking recipes online will never come out exactly right, you still have to try a thousand times!) as well as joining global communities via online seminars run by Doctors of natural medicine and holistic healing. So it was a 2 year period of self-teaching and once I felt I had to take the next step and get the professionals to teach me, I enrolled in a gluten free baking course in February 2016 ICIF – Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners which was a very strong learning curve since they have an Association for Coeliac Disease in Italy where I was taught by experts in the field. I was super proud to come out as the top student during the final test of baking amongst my Chef colleagues, that was definitely the cherry on top of it all 🙂 I guess all that studying prepped me well!”

4. How can someone know if they are gluten intolerant? What are the symptoms?
“The symptoms range from bloating, stomach aches, migraines, fatigue, depression, sometimes it can be an immediate reaction where it shows on your skin with red rashes, redness and even eczema. When it’s an intolerance the symptoms are less severe and can be mistaken for other things which is a huge misleading factor when someone is trying to medicate and isn’t getting results. If these symptoms keep elevating and don’t go away, then a food allergy test should be done, the test is available in several Labs across the Middle East now. Another easy way to test if you are gluten intolerant or intolerant to any food in general, is to do a self-test: for example, if you feel some of the symptoms we mentioned above, then stop intake of dairy for 1-2 weeks. Then have a small amount of milk or dairy product and allow yourself 10-15 minutes to see how your body reacts. If you get a reaction, then you have a clear sign that your body is not accepting dairy and cannot digest it.”

5. What is the definition of “health” for SSB?
“Health is a collection of peace of mind, a “calm” gut for digestion & a strong state of mind. What you eat directly effects everything about your being. If you understand the anatomy of your body and how it works with you if you feed it and treat it right, your life can change entirely. It is in all of us to eat natural foods, real foods from the Earth and to allow our bodies to feel energetic and string- that is how we are made to be but people tend to forget that with all the bombardments of junk and noise surrounding us in our busy lives.”

6. It is known that healthy food is generally more expensive… How do you keep your prices competitive?
“This is an excellent question. We are all aware that organic produce and ‘healthy’ food is more expensive (while in reality it should be the opposite!)
To avoid this and to keep our work sustainable, we use only Local ingredients in our Bakery & our Kitchen. We do not import gluten free mixes from abroad as other outlets do. SSB has it’s own factory outlet where we mill all our gluten free flours and create all our recipes in house. This keeps our price range affordable to everyone we cater to. Everything is 100% gluten free dairy free and refined sugar free- it’s a real haven for anyone with Coeliac disease or Gluten intolerance! We are proud to say SSB is MADE IN EGYPT. “

 

7. Is it challenging to market this kind of menu to the Egyptian market?
“It is challenging of course since the concept of gluten intolerance is new to the market and people are still discovering that there is no one-time fix to this disease. Anyone who first discovers they have an issue with gluten or dairy are very resistant to change and get scared- the trick here is to comfort and reassure them with the fact that the substitutes are all available and that they don’t have to sacrifice their favourite Baked foods. Egypt is a market that loves to follow trends, and Gluten free food has become a trend in the Niche market here, so that is a plus for us to spread awareness about Coeliac Disease. There is a big market here that needs attention and that is children under the age of 10. In this case mothers are the ones who are searching for gluten free products and that is the biggest market we are seeing that is growing fast.”

8. Tell us a funny story you’ve encountered in your venture.
“I once was at the cafe and a customer walked in, starts looking around and had a big smile on her face while she kept looking at all the baked items on display and the bread. After she took her time and placed her order on the counter, I couldn’t help but notice she had such a surprised look on her face so I introduced myself and starting chatting with her. To my surprise this client had come all the way from a further area in Cairo to purchase Bread and pastries and she was so happy that we had open pen SSB that she actually started crying while thanking me and telling me what a blessing the bakery is to her and her children’s lives. The funny past of the story is I started crying as well as I was so touched by this and we hugged and everyone at the cafe was looking at us like we were emotional and hormonal crazy women…it was really funny as my staff were also a little confused. We both started laughing so hard after that because everyone was looking!”

9. Since you’ve opened SSB, what is the thing that you are most proud of?
“I am proud that I managed to train a team about Coeliac disease and wheat allergy and even dairy intolerance. I honestly thought this would be impossible to teach young Egyptian workers and especially bakers. We have come a long way in one year and I am proud of how much they learned and how they protect our bakery and cafe to keep it safe and allergy-friendly to all.”

10. What do you aspire to achieve through SSB?
“I would love for Egypt to be on the map of producing, distributing and catering through SSB for all gluten free dairy free and sugar free baked goods. We have all the local ingredients in Egypt, we just need more talent and hard work.”

Read Also:

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