Erika Lenkert and I have several things in common: a shared love of GF Sourdough from Sadie at Bread Srsly, the belief that Shauna the Gluten Free Girl is beyond gifted, and an occasional hankering for chocolate chip cookie dough. We also both had our health sidelined by Gluten, and went on to create a space where foodies can come to obsess over heirloom tomatoes, roast chicken and fresh pasta, completely free of the protein that makes us all ill. I started G-Free Foodie with a “if I build it, y’all will come” attitude, and Erika has too: she’s launched a Kickstarter.com campaign to build Gluten Free Forever magazine, hoping you’ll subscribe now & help them reach their goal! Please visit Kickstarter to join the party, and read more about Erika’s story & what the other GFF is doing! XO – KC
How did GFF get started, and where are you headed?
For years I craved a food-lover’s magazine that happened to be gluten-free, so that’s what I decided to make—a magazine that showcases exceptional food that’s naturally gluten free as well as the very best gluten-free iterations of foods that we usually can’t eat. It went from a concept to a reality the minute I stopped thinking about it and started doing it! I shared the idea with my food-photographer friend Maren Caruso and her designer friend Catherine Jacobes and they quickly became my co-founding partners because they were equally excited about creating a bold new food magazine. From there everything gained momentum. Ultimately, our goal is to make a food magazine that’s so useful, interesting, and beautiful that food lovers will buy it and love cooking from it whether they’re gluten-free or not.
What is your favorite feature in GFF?
That’s really hard to say. I literally jump up and down with excitement when we get in an out-of-this-world salad or pasta recipe from a chef or food writer. I get equally excited when we discover an artisan baker making and shipping across the country gluten-free sourdough bread that contends with those of my San Francisco childhood. For me, GFF is one big opportunity to share with the gluten-free community the very best of what we’re looking for, whether it’s something to make in our own kitchens, something to buy, or somewhere to go.
Are you a local, national or international magazine?
We are focused on the national market, but the international interest in gluten-free food has inspired us to make ourselves available outside of the United States as well.
Tell me about your Kickstarter!
It’s been pretty wild debuting our magazine on Kickstarter. The cool part is that because it’s a crowdsourced fundraising platform, it has immediately connected us with our community—food lovers who don’t want to sacrifice flavor or pleasure while enjoying a gluten-free lifestyle. We’ve been blown away by the support and by how quickly the word has spread. The less cool part is that it’s an all-or-nothing deal; if we don’t meet our fundraising goal in 30 days from launch, we get nothing (and contributors don’t pay). That means we need people who appreciate what we’re doing to order their issue or subscription right now if they want to see GFF on newsstands this fall. That’s a hard message to communicate, but one that we hope is getting out there.
Tell me about how your own gluten-free lifestyle began.
In 2000, I was in a very stressful dot-com startup job while moonlighting as a food critic, cookbook author and food writer for magazines when I suddenly blew up like Violet Beaurigarde—15 pounds out of nowhere. And my skin and hair looked terrible. I didn’t realize that I had developed gluten intolerance until I did a cleanse/elimination diet. The minute I ate wheat again, my face broke out and I felt terrible. Since then, the minute I eat it I get dandruff on my scalp, rosacea on my face, and bloating. Who needs that?! I was lucky, though, because I was already comfortable in the kitchen and preferred the sort of farm-to-table cooking that wouldn’t call for gluten anyway. So the change wasn’t that great a challenge. But I did crave chocolate-chip cookie dough every now and then—and that was years before gluten-free versions or good alternative flours were readily available.
Is GFF just for foodies or can the average cook utilize the recipes and articles too?
While we’ll certainly include some aspirational recipes that food lovers might want to try when they have the time or ambition, our goal is to elevate the every day. To do that, our recipes need to be practical and doable. Similarly, the purpose of our articles is to inform our readers of ways to improve their lives, be it with cool kitchen tricks that improve their gluten-free cooking, information on how to make more healthful or flavorful buying decisions at the grocery store or where to go on vacation .
Is GFF purely Gluten-Free? Do you offer ideas for Dairy-free, Paleo, Top 8 Allergens, etc?
We’ll first and foremost address the common cravings of the gluten-free community, but we’re also appreciative of the trend toward a cleaner, healthier diet and want to celebrate that with exceptional recipes that can be enjoyed by everyone, including those with additional sensitivities or vegetarian preferences.
How can we subscribe to GFF?
Please go to Kickstarter.com right now and order your discounted subscription before April 28 so that we get the funding we need to launch a beautiful, collectable first issue this fall.
After a long day, what’s your favorite easy meal?
It depends on the season and my personal cravings, which shift widely. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a big salad of leafy greens, walnuts or pumpkin seeds, avocado, tomato, and maybe a little fennel tossed in the salad dressing of my youth (3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, and ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt). Other times I’ll be wholly satisfied by a simple spaghetti with a sauce of diced tomatoes simmered in olive oil then mashed into a smooth sauce with some salt, butter, and a dash of red pepper flakes topped with freshly shredded basil leaves. And every now and then a craving hits where nothing satisfies like a good old-fashioned cheeseburger.
What else do you want our readers to know?
Please reach out to us on Kickstarter.com and tell us what you want from a new gluten-free magazine! There’s a comments area where you can share with us. What are you missing? What do you want to know more about? What would make you excitedly wait by the mailbox for GFF each quarter? We aspire to make this magazine an extension of today’s gluten-free psyche and illustrate that there’s no need to just “get by” because we actually can have our cake and eat it too.