Gluten-free cafe to open doors in Pitt Meadows

photo of caffe in Port Coquitlam
Caffe Delish location in Port Coquitlam/Photo by Ayesha Ghaffar

What started as a gluten-free bread business quickly became one of the most popular gluten-free cafes in Metro Vancouver.

Now, Caffe Delish is ready to open its second location.

By June 2023, they will open doors in Pitt Meadows and the cherry on top? It will likely be a drive-thru.

But this decision happened by a mere fluke, said Jenna Fidanza, owner of Caffe Delish and Speciality Bakery.

On the way to find a location in Langley, she drove by Pitt Meadows and came across the space where Kellie’s Bead Boutique was once operational.

She felt a “desperate need for a coffee shop” in the area and decided to make it happen.

Although she has been baking for 12 years, Delish Caffe opened its doors in 2021 on Hastings Street. Soon, they relocated and opened a cafe in Port Coquitlam in May 2022.

Within six months of serving PoCo, the announcement of a new location was made.

Fidanza said that although a lifestyle choice might be a factor, people enjoy the taste of baked goods sold by Delish.

“With our stuff, so many people say, ‘I can’t even tell it’s gluten-free.’ So we thought, you know what? For the cafe, instead of branding a gluten-free cafe, let’s just have a cafe that just happens to be gluten-free,” said Fidanza.

Their secret ingredient is the flour recipe made by her grandmother 20 years ago.

Fidanza’s grandmother has celiac disease, an inherent condition that is triggered by consuming cereal grains such as wheat, rye and barley.

For a person with celiac, consumption of gluten can cause damage to the inner lining of the small bowel, reducing their ability to absorb calcium, Vitamin D, protein, iron and more, according to the Government of Canada.

Her grandmother was one of the first diagnosed cases of celiac disease in the country in the 1960s. That is when she started to play around with different flours to create the blend that is used today at the bakery and cafe.

“Growing up with her, there was nothing available for her. She’s kinda had to play around with certain flours and that’s how she came up with our flour. She’s worked on her flour for 20 years, and then I [started to] bake with it and use it for anything, any recipe,” said Fidanza.

Two decades ago, not only were gluten-free products not readily available, people were not accepting of them, either.

“It was just awful. They didn’t have the means to make the recipes and formulas of gluten-free food good.”

photo of wall chalk art
The flour recipe has been tried and tested by Jenna’s grandmother for 20 years/Photo by Ayesha Ghaffar

Although now more options are available, some people still have to face social implications for their health condition.

As a mother of a young son, Robyn Johnson shared that they prefer to host to minimize chances of cross-contamination as “even a crumb of toast can make him sick for days.”

“Kids’ birthday parties are hard as well since most food provided has gluten. I usually pack a gluten-free version of what is being offered at the party for my son so he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out.”

Another resident of Maple Ridge shared that due to her health condition, she feels guilty for always choosing where to meet with her friends.

“It would be nice if more restaurants could become more educated and try to have space to prepare gluten-free foods safely. But I understand not everyone is invested in this,” said Carolyn Nelligan Gosling.

Myths about gluten-free diet

But, there are misconceptions about the disease.

People were dismissing celiac for a bit because they assumed that others are just following a fad diet, said Jess Pirnak, a registered dietitian and volunteer for Celiac Canada Association’s BC chapter.

Another myth is that those who have celiac can “tolerate a small amount of dietary gluten once in a while.”

Inflationary hike for gluten-free products

Inflation has impacted most Canadians post-pandemic.

There was a 6.9 per cent increase in the consumer price index of BC in 2022, the highest in 40 years, according to data from the government of BC.

Prices of bakery and cereal items increased by 14.4 per cent by February 2023 compared to 2022.

“Prices have gone up on all foods but I think gluten-free foods have such sticker shock since they were expensive, to begin with. A loaf of bread is $7.99 is one thing but now that it’s $9.50 or more seems ridiculous!” said Gosling.

Although there is a tax benefit provided by the government, the process is strenuous enough to discourage people from claiming it.

To get the tax benefit, a person would need to get an official diagnosis that would require ingestion of gluten for weeks to assess the physical damage done, shared Pirnak.

Another downfall is gathering information.

“Also the work sometimes involved in collecting all that data for your taxes is more work than it would be beneficial.”

Volunteers at the CCA are working with local food banks to make them safe for those with celiac disease however, it’s still in its preliminary stages.

In Canada, one per cent of the population is affected by celiac disease, however, 90 per cent of cases go undiagnosed, according to Health Canada.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top