PROFILE: Everybody Eats
Profile: Everybody Eats
I'm pleased to kick off a new series at GlutenFreeBaking.com! From time to time, I will be featuring gluten-free bakeries. I'll chat with the bakers, tell you about their product lines and help you get to know the folks that work hard to produce yummy gluten-free food!
Everybody Eats holds a special place in my heart. I first met owners Bruce Bassman and Pedro Arroba at the Westchester, New York celiac support group meeting. At the time, I was new to presenting gluten-free baking demos. After the demo I had a chance to chat with Bruce and Pedro. I still remember their warmth and excitement for gluten-free baking.
Over the years we have sat near each other at vendor events. They are still as warm and energetic as they were at our first meeting.
Their business "Everybody Eats" has an impressive product line. Offering everything from wonderful crusty baguettes to chocolate chip cookies to homemade ravioli, "Everybody Eats" is really a full service gluten-free bakery.
(I just enjoyed one of their chocolate chip cookies. It reminded me of the chocolate chip cookies served at "The Mirror Lake Inn" in Lake Place. Yum!)
I chatted with Bruce and Pedro, via e-mail, to learn more about their business.
When did "Everybody Eats" open?
Everybody Eats, Inc. was incorporated in June of 2004. Nine months previously Pedro proposed the idea of opening a gluten free food business to Bruce who was at the time working as assistant to the deans (Jacques Pepin, Alain Silhac, André Soltner, and Jacques Torres) at New York City's French Culinary Institute (where they make some of the best baguette in NYC).
Together they sampled the gluten free foods then conveniently available in the markets. Bruce was horrified. The bread they bought would not even toast, no matter how many times they pushed it down in the toaster! But Pedro convinced Bruce that together they could make foods that would be good enough for anyone, celiac or not, and so they went ahead and started experimenting.
The first plan was to cook in Bruce's Manhattan apartment and then to deliver everything via subway to clients in New York City. A website was created and it went on line. Their first orders were from Hawaii and New Jersey, obviously not accessible by public transit... They got some boxes from the local supermarket and called a shipping company. They borrowed a friend's car to make local deliveries. And they went into partnership with another chef to build a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn.
What attracted you to the challenging world of gluten-free baking? I know Pedro is a celiac but you both have amazing backgrounds! Bruce, I imagine the world of baking is a little different from fireworks display design! Or is it....?
Back before Everybody Eats, Bruce was a theater stage manager, electrician, decor and lighting designer; special events manager; fireworks designer; and finally caterer. His mom ran a little catering business out of their apartment in the Bronx while he was growing up. He has loved cooking all his life and cooked just to entertain through all previous careers, but his interest was never strong in baking. His true food interest is international classic and ethnic cooking and he cooks exotic gluten free lunches whenever he can at the kitchen.
The real drive to create Everybody Eats came from Pedro. Pedro is a mechanical engineer with a degree in business and marketing. He owned and operated a sizable air conditioning company in Venezuela, but he too always enjoyed cooking on the side. His difficulties growing up, as both undiagnosed and diagnosed celiac, plus his degree in marketing and entrepreneurial bent, all combined to propel him into a fascination with bakeries in general and a particular interest in tricky gluten free baking.
Does "Everybody Eats" have a retail location or do you only sell on-line?
Everybody Eats operates out of an 100% dedicated gluten free kitchen and office facility on the edge of burgeoning Park Slope in Brooklyn. Because space is so precious in NYC, there is no room for counters, disabled access ramps, display cases, or the other amenities necessary to have a licensed retail storefront.
Customers can place orders to be shipped through the website, via e-mail, or with a phone call.
However, we encourage customers to place and pay for orders a short time ahead and then pick them up at the kitchen any day of the week. On Saturdays Everybody Eats opens from 10 to 5 for walk-in retail sales. On that day we have a chance to spend time with customers, to discuss their needs and concerns, and they are welcome to buy anything from our menu and pay for it any way they like. Everybody gets a free cookie or two as well!
Our products can also be found in stores in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Albany, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Maryland. We are working to obtain national distribution so our products will be more available locally for everyone.
We've meet at various celiac awareness events. What do you enjoy about attending these events? Is there anything specific you have learned from your customers through these events?
Everybody Eats maintains a heavy schedule of support group meetings and other events and we enjoy attending them very much. It is our only advertising activity and it is a great opportunity to visit different communities and sample the atmosphere and the different culinary specialties of different regions (seafood in Boston, crabs in Maryland, barbecue in Columbus, Pennsylvania Dutch farm cooking in Lancaster, York, and Gettysburg, cheese steaks - on our baguette of course - in Philly).
We feel it is important to be present ourselves at these events, small or large, because of concerns about how the products are presented, and because customers' questions are often complicated and deserve truly knowledgeable responses.
One nice part of the experience is to finally be able to put faces on the voices we have heard so many times on the phone. Many of our customers have become real friends. They even go to bat for us and get us into their local stores!. Another reward is the joy and pride we experience seeing people's reactions as they taste our products for the first time. It is not unusual for people to actually cry at their first taste of the Crusty Baguette.
You offer a wonderfully varied product line. What was the most challenging product to develop?
There is no one product presently in production which has been more challenging than others to develop. The difficulties are most often logistical, dealing with baking gluten free products on a commercial scale, and involve things like obtaining ingredients in economical yet manageable quantities, packaging, and developing techniques for handling the gluten free doughs.
What would you consider your "signature" product?
There is no question, the signature product is the Crusty Baguette. The Pizza and Chocolate Chip Cookies are also tremendously popular. The Deli Rolls are fast approaching the Baguette in popularity.
I've noticed several of your products are corn-free or dairy-free. Was this in response to customer requests for corn- or dairy-free item?
The Banana Bread, Egg Challah, Chicken Ravioli, Fudge Brownies, and Dairy Free Deli Rolls are diary free. The Pizza, Bagels, White Bread, and Egg Challah are corn free. Except for the Deli rolls, these products were NOT developed in response to customer requests. The recipes are naturally that way - converted from conventional recipes without trying to substitute or eliminate anything except gluten. We do not hold with the practice of trying to capture a greater share of the market by eliminating or substituting ingredients and sacrificing taste or texture.
The Deli Rolls, however, were created in response to parents who wanted a decent roll for a school sandwich, hero, sub, or hamburger. Recently, and only after much experimentation, Everybody Eats has been able to produce a Dairy Free Deli Roll which is virtually indistinguishable from the regular Deli Roll. The Deli Rolls are proving extremely popular because of their convenience. That shows how important customer input can be.
The fall is fast approaching. Right now on your web site, you are offering Halloween cookies and stuffing. Do you always offer special baked goods for the holiday seasons?
There is a tradition of special baked goods for holidays and Everybody Eats sees no reason why the celiac community shouldn't enjoy that as well. There is something really special about a holiday cookie; it's great to see the smile it can put on a kid's face. Holiday Sugar Cookies are offered for Valentine's Day, Easter, Memorial Day-Independence Day-Labor Day, Halloween, Chanukah, and Christmas, just about everything we can think of.
The "Harvest" Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing is made from a wonderful heritage recipe and offered only in the fall. It contains both hot and sweet sausage, tart apples, and walnuts.
You offer homemade ravioli. How is this shipped to customers? How would someone prepare it once it arrives in their home?
Everybody Eats makes five kinds of ravioli by hand: Beef, Cheese, Spinach-Ricotta, dairy free Chicken, and Pumpkin at winter holiday time. They are always available for pick up at the kitchen, but too delicate to be shipped during the warm summer months. The thin, fresh pasta must be kept frozen until the ravioli are broken apart and dropped into an ample amount of boiling salted water. Once the water returns to a boil, the heat is lowered to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Violent boiling can break them apart. They are then drained and sauced. At the kitchen, we prefer to enjoy them with condiments other than the usual tomato sauce.
Like our Pizza and Lasagna, the Ravioli are a frozen product and must be shipped via Overnight Shipping in a cooler with ice packs. In some areas inexpensive Ground Shipping is automatically overnight.
Finally, I love your smiley face logo! Do you receive comments about this cute, happy face?
Everybody Eats' "smiley face" logo is named "Pablito" and was designed by Pedro. It is actually the face of his youngest son, Pablo, now a strapping teenager. Occasionally there is a compliment about the logo, but our name itself never fails to get a chuckle. Bank tellers burst out laughing and ask what we do. Company reps, receptionists, suppliers, male and female, all giggle. And everybody says, "That's a good name, That certainly is true!"
Thanks to Bruce and Pedro for taking time out of their very busy schedules to chat with me. While we exchanged e-mails, I enjoyed not only their chocolate chip cookies but also their Deli Rolls. Yum! Yum! (In the Albany, NY area, you can pick up their products at "It's Only Natural" in Albany.)
Everybody Eats can be found on-line at Everybodyeats-inc.com or reached by phone at 718-369-7444
I heartily recommend their delicious products and I look forward to seeing Bruce and Pedro at upcoming celiac events!
If you enjoyed this profile and would like to see one of your favorite gluten-free bakeries featured, send me an e-mail!