Many would say ice cream, or gelato, is a way of life. It has been a go-to dessert in my family for decades and a permanent offering even before the reality hit that gluten was not my friend. I was sure however, that ice cream would still be a safe sweet treat and easy to source, given its presence on almost every restaurant menu. But sadly, ice cream, like so many other things, often contains hidden gluten and other allergens. This should not be the case though, DeLepel Dolci & Gelati founder Massimo Caroti told me. “Real gelato does not call for grains, gluten or a lot of the other unpronounceable ingredients we see on so many labels today,” he said.


Massimo, a self-taught Italian gelato artist who moved to Amsterdam one year ago, set out to create an entirely natural gelateria and that is most certainly what he has done. Located on Ceintuurbaan in the trendy Brooklyn-esque De Pijp neighbourhood, DeLepel opened its doors to gelato enthusiasts on April 1, 2017. Already a hit with Amsterdam residents and foreign visitors alike, the up-and-coming gelateria is by default entirely gluten and processed ingredient free, thanks to the way in which this all-natural gelato is prepared. This was no easy task however, taking Massimo two months to locate a chemical-free cream for the base of his gelato alone.

DeLepel currently offers up to 24 different flavours of ice cream and dairy-free sorbet, six of which change on a weekly basis depending on seasonal availability and creative urge. The gelateria also produces a number of chilled gluten free desserts, including tiramisu. “A lot of gluten free and dairy free customers will come into the shop and their positive reaction is what makes this job even more special for me,” Massimo said, adding that his history with allergies and intolerances was part of the motivation behind his project. He described being angry or upset when cross-contamination was not taken seriously in the past. “This results in people having to miss out on delicious things,” Massimo said.


The proof of Massimo’s hard work really is in the product and the overall experience you have when inside DeLepel. I knew upon entering that I was in wonderful hands and did not hold back when ordering a double cone, filled with classic chocolate and Italian custard flavoured ice creams. The gelato was rich, fragrant and not overbearingly sweet, accompanied perfectly by a crunchy gluten free cone.


I would urge any of you reading this to put DeLepel high up on your must-visit list for Amsterdam. However, I am sure that you will be seeing this name in other cities across the Netherlands in the not too distant future. This hard-working five-person team and the fabulous ice cream they produce are sure to go far.

DeLepel: Ceintuurbaan 320, 1072 GP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Black and White Photo Credits: Phil Yisrael

Free From Festival

At the end of May, Free From Events hosted the UK’s first-ever gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free festival in East London’s Old Spitalfield’s Market. The event, created by Margarita Kalna, was choc-a-bloc with 56 exhibitors and over 2,800 hungry customers. Margarita has been building up her free from event planning operation since 2014, after witnessing a good friend struggle to eat out and source allergy-friendly food products. I had the pleasure of attending last month and have selected my top picks from the event, all of whom are businesses well-worth keeping an eye on.

Eat Safe App

Still struggling when it comes to picking an allergy-friendly place to go for a meal? Matt Bland – the founder and creator of Eat Safe – knows how you feel and wants to help. Eat Safe is a new and upcoming initiative to make picking a restaurant easier for allergy sufferers. The app allows users to pick their current location and dietary requirement before offering suggestions for nearby eateries. What’s interesting about this app is that as well as revealing your nearest 100% allergy-friendly restaurants, places perhaps you never knew served gluten or dairy free dishes for example, are also factored in. Each location is then given a ranking according to the number of allergy-friendly options available on their menu.


I had the opportunity to play around with the app and cannot wait to use it regularly. If you’re interested in giving it a go during the limited launch period in mid-June, head over to the Eat Safe website to sign up or get in touch with the team via


Green Sisters

After six years of not being able to eat a samosa, coming across the Green Sisters was an emotional moment. This delightful family business creates gluten free, vegetarian and egg free Indian food, as part of a concept they call “considered dining” – in other words, eating which is considerate of a variety of dietary needs whether a diet is being followed through choice or necessity.


Tucking into this spicy samosa with a side of vegetable pakora and fragrant chickpeas was one of the day’s top highlights and something I look forward to doing again in the near future. Follow these wonderful ladies on social media for news of their next pop-up.


White Rabbit Pizza Co.

You may well have already tried the gold-dust pizza created by White Rabbit Pizza Co. in Oxford, given they are stocked by well-known retailers including Planet Organic and Abel & Cole. For me however, this was a first-time experience and I was certainly not disappointed. All pizzas from this group are gluten free and organic, and there is even a vegan pie on offer too.


The company originally started off serving much-requested gluten free pizzas in their pubs in Oxford. Following such a great success, the team decided to start distributing across the country and have never looked back. Keep your eyes peeled for new stockists of these pizzas, including Whole Foods and As Nature Intended. These guys are sure to go far.



Even before I discovered gluten was a no-go, the idea of baking my own bread never inspired me. After meeting the husband and wife team behind MannaVida however, I am stoked to start creating my own hassle-free gluten free foccacia at home.


Dan Jennings and Davina Steel produce a selection of bake-at-home bread mixes and flours which are entirely free from additives and gluten. The team started up their business in 2015 when treatment for cancer left Davina severely intolerant to gluten. MannaVida has since won three World Bread Awards and continues to develop new recipes and improve old favourites. It is no wonder the team ran out of bread samples on the day – the texture of every kind I tried was spot on and full of flavour. Get yours online from Ocado.


Cake and Cucumber

Feeling incredibly stuffed after sampling all of the amazing food detailed above and more, I stumbled across Cake and Cucumber’s stand and I am so glad I did. The company is headed up by East London resident and baking-enthusiast Phoebe. An advocate of free-from, wholefoods cooking, Phoebe ticks all gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free boxes when it comes to preparing food without compensating on flavour.


Phoebe began her venture in 2015 and appears at a number of events across London with Cake and Cucumber. She also hosts pop-ups and workshops. Keep your eyes on the company website for more details on where to source these delicious products baked with love.


Free From Festival will be in Bristol on Saturday 28 October from 10:30am onwards
Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs

Dona Rita

I first encountered Pão de Queijo was when I living in Argentina several years back. I had enrolled in a Spanish refresher course at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and managed to grab one of the last open spots on the summer class, which was otherwise fully occupied by Brazilian students. They taught me many things that January, including how to properly appreciate their staple cheese bread snack. When they ran out of energy to make it from scratch themselves, we all resorted to the Argentine equivalent – Chipa.

A bread made from a base of yuca or cassava flour and cheese, this totally gluten free snack was amazingly still an option for me after finding out I was allergic. With a growing Brazilian population, London is host to several cafes that import Pão de Queijo but the homemade kind is still hard to find. So, I was nothing if not delighted when I heard a new local company was on the scene – Dona Rita.

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Started in 2016 by São Paulo native Rita, her son Pedro and his Spanish girlfriend Clara, Dona Rita has big dreams to make Pão de Queijo a London staple, and, why not, given its versatility as a snack, an accompaniment and even a meal itself, smothered in different toppings and stuffed with meats, cheeses and vegetables.

My wonderful photographer Ilmi and I ventured to meet the team one Saturday at their Druid Street Market base, where they opened for business this year. The brightly hand painted blue stall stood out from afar on a dreary Saturday morning in Bermondsey, as did the cheery disposition of Rita and her family. Rita, who came to the UK in 2002, told us how she had missed Pão de Queijo so much that she quickly started working to perfect her own recipe, preparing the bread multiple times per week.


However, it was Pedro’s girlfriend Clara – a coeliac – who encouraged Rita to turn her baking into a business. “One morning Pedro gave me some for breakfast. I couldn’t believe it was gluten free and it’s safe to say I’m now obsessed with it,” Clara explained.

While Rita prepped us a generous tray of fresh Pão, Pedro explained how the team got started, first showcasing Rita’s bread on social media, before taking it to Druid Street Market in south London. “This market has been a great starting point for us and we have met a lot of great people – both alltime Pão de Queijo fans and new taste testers,” Pedro said. The brand, which right now is focused on the bread itself but in the future could expand to other cassava-based snacks, “needs to be seen as different, while staying true to Brazilian heritage,” Clara said. But this is not your average Brazilian business, with the bright colours of the Brazilian flag nowhere to be seen. “We want to attract Brazilians, Londoners and everyone else in between,” Pedro added.


“My dream is to see our Pão de Queijo in stores so everyone can have access to it,” Rita said, while recommending we try her homemade Pao smothered in Requeijão – Brazil’s answer to cream cheese. The team also have a fresh supply of different seasonal jams to try on top of the bread. “It’s even amazing with nutella,” Rita added. The bread was one of the best I’ve had, wonderfully soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. It’s safe to say that Rita has accomplished the perfect texture, which came across immediately upon pulling the bread apart and into two pieces, leaving it ready to cover in a delicious topping.

Versatile yet focused, Dona Rita is definitely a business to watch. The team have a number of ideas to develop the traditional Pão, including introducing new flavours and colours to the range via all natural ingredients such as beetroot, spinach, carrot and even aspirations to introduce a vegan option. The team currently sell fresh Pão as well as frozen bags of 15 balls to take home and cook later. I cannot urge you all enough to go meet Rita, Pedro and Clara in May when they will be at Old Street Station showcasing just how good this Brazilian staple is.


Dona Rita currently has a pop-up at Old Street Station until May 21!
Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs