“Free-From” Business Spotlight: Marilyn Bruno, Founder of The Really Great Food Company (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free) Baking Mixes
True Story: on the night of March 16th, I remembered that I had committed to bring gluten-free Irish Soda Bread the next day to a St. Patrick’s Day party I was attending, and had 100% forgot about my promise. In a panic, I quickly began searching for “Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread” in NYC. My searches came up empty. Could I make it from scratch? I wouldn’t have time as I had to be at work all day before the party. Through my mad search combos on Google, I stumbled upon The Really Great Food Company. Intrigued by their straight-forward and promising name, I found that they made baking mixtures that were gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and more. Best of all? They had a Irish Soda Bread mix. Taking less than an hour to make this seemed like something I could make happen. St. Patrick’s Day was saved!
Not only did The Really Great Food Company make me a hit at the party for my allergy-free Irish Soda Bread (it’s a great conversation starter), but their products are truly delicious, and 100% allergen-free (dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free). I wanted to learn more, and was lucky enough to speak with Marilyn Bruno, owner of The Really Great Food Company.
AFW: You’ve been around since 1991! The landscape has really changed in terms of terms of companies who are making food that caters towards those with food restrictions and allergies. What have you learned from being a player in this category for so many years?
Marilyn: We’ve learned so much. The most important lesson has been that we have to keep up with the times. People have discerning pallets as a result of the quality has gotten better in the allergen-free marketplace. Luckily, our recipes have more than delivered as we(and our loyal customers) feel our mixes are head & shoulders above the competition.
AFW: Chef Anne Sammartino who has a degree from the internationally renowned Johnson & Wales School of Culinary Art has created mixes that are not only delicious, but are also gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, casein-free, yeast-free, and wheat-free. What’s the secret to making them taste so great?
Marilyn: Our “secret” ingredient must remain secret! 🙂 That special secret ingredient helps our product retain moisture and creates the flavor profile of a “normal” baked good.
AFW: You offer a wide variety of cakes, breads, muffins, and seasonal (Irish Soda Bread, Pumpkin, Apple Spice) mixes. How do you decide what flavors of mixes to create?
Marilyn: We actually have about 35 formulas and are bringing back a few customer favorites, including our pizza crust, all-purpose flour, and possibly a french bread mix. It all depends on what the market demands!
AFW: While some of your mixtures call for eggs, the mixtures are vegan friendly, implying they can be made 100% vegan. Do you have any recommendations for the best vegan egg and butter replacements for your mixes?
Marilyn: We use oil to replace butter, and the best egg substitute we love is flax seed meal + water. 1 egg = 3 tablespoons of water + 1 tablespoon of finely ground flax seed meal.
AFW: As the owner of The Really Great Food Company, what has been your proudest moment?
Marilyn: Every time a customer is happy is a proud moment!
AFW: What’s your personal favorite mixture? What creation have you seen made from your mixes that you were most impressed with?
Marilyn: Our favorite is the banana bread. We had a customer make amazing chocolate chip cookies using our pancake mix. That was a good one!
AFW: It’s incredible that your baking mixes are top-8 free. How do you maintain an allergen-free facility?
Marilyn: Our co-packer (where our formulas are mixed and packaged) has a strictly maintained facility which has a number of allergy-free certifications.
AFW: Do you have any food allergies or restrictions yourself?
Marilyn: One of our partners has a very strict celiac diet in addition to a number of other allergies.
AFW: What’s your hope for The Really Great Food Company in the future?
Marilyn: We want to keep growing and continue to help the allergen-free community.
AFW: Describe your company in three words.
Marilyn: Really Great Food!
As a special gift to my readers, I’ll be giving away four of my favorite Really Great Food Company Baking Mixes: Banana Bread, Brownie, Golden Cake, Pancake/Waffle.