Monday, November 11, 2013

Upcoming Event: Gluten Free Garage and an Interview with RonniLyn Pustil

If you live in or around Toronto, there is a great gluten free event taking place this Sunday, November 17th at Artscape Wychwood Barns. The Gluten Free Garage, Toronto's pop-up gluten free marketplace is back for another day. I attended this event in April, and was impressed by all the local vendors and speakers who came out to support the gluten free community. Want to know what my experience was like? You can read about it in my Gluten Free Garage Recap Post .

This event brings together local producers, artisans, and vendors in one place for a day of sampling, learning, and fun. Unlike many of the bigger events, this event focuses on the local, and has more of a farmer's market style feeling, rather than a large convention set-up. It's a chance to get to know where to go locally for gluten free food and information.

I was provided the opportunity to interview the founder of the Gluten Free Event, RonniLyn Pustil, about what visitors can expect, what's new, and where she sees the Gluten Free Garage in the future. Keep reading for event details after the interview.


1- What can someone who has never attended a Gluten Free Garage event in the past expect to find?

A lively pop-up marketplace with 65 kinds of gluten-free goodness—hands-down the best baked goods, a big selection of healthy prepared foods, locally made products, fresh delicious food, guest speakers, food trucks, lots of free samples and happy gluten-free people.

Food: Mary Hulbert Photo Credit: Jordan Prussky

2- What makes your event different from all the other gluten free events out there?

It doesn’t have a trade show feel; it’s more like a gluten-free farmers’ market (without the farmers!). And there’s a real community feel to it. Also, we handpick our vendors and we think we’ve done a pretty good job of bringing together the best gluten-free things out there.

3- The Gluten Free Garage focuses on local companies and products, rather than on larger companies. Why focus on the local?

Local is fresh. And it’s community. After the event, you can go to the vendors’ bakeries, restaurants and shops; visit them at farmers’ markets; talk face-to-face with the people who make the products. These are people who are passionate about what they do.


                                               Food: Tori's Bakeshop Photo Credit : Jordan Prussky

 4- In addition to products, there are also some speakers on the schedule offering information sessions about healthy eating and gluten free living. Can you share a taste of what each will offer?

Guest speakers Ricki Heller, Joy McCarthy and Maggie Savage will talk about various aspects of healthy, happy gluten-free living. For more details, please have a look at our website! There will be something for everyone.

5- What are you most excited about for this November’s event?

A totally eclectic mix of vendors—new ones who are joining us for the first time and favourites who are coming back again.

6- What’s new this time around? If someone already attended the Gluten Free Garage in April, what’s new to discover this November?

There are about 25 new vendors! 

7- What is your long term goal for the Gluten Free Garage? Where do you see this event in 5 years?

The Gluten Free Garage has evolved organically. I’ve grown with this event and this event has grown with me. It’s hard for me to say where it will be in 5 years, but I believe gluten free is here to stay. It’s certainly here to stay in our lives. Our daughter Lily has celiac disease, so we know gluten free is more than a fad—it’s a necessity for people with celiac and gluten intolerance. In fact, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac. And the numbers of people with celiac and gluten intolerance are on the rise. There’s a growing demand for gluten-free products and options and education. Hopefully, we’ll still be around in some shape or form. Maybe we’ll pop up somewhere else in the future.


8- How do you feel about the recent “trendiness” of gluten free? Do you feel it’s helping or hurting those who are gluten free due to Celiac Disease or non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?

On one hand, I think the trendiness helps raise awareness and provides more options for people who eat gluten free. On the other hand, not all claims of “gluten free” are equal. Many restaurants boast gluten-free items on their menus but have no clue about cross-contamination. So it’s more important than ever to ask questions when you eat out. Find out how they prepare the food. Don’t be shy.

9- I am also raising a gluten free child, and am often asked for advice by other parents in a similar situation. What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when your daughter was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease that you would like to pass on to others?

Don’t assume that people know what gluten is or what it’s in. When your child has a play date or is going to a relative’s house, send a snack and tell them to call you if they have any doubt about whether something is gluten free. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

10- Finally, feeding gluten free children requires imagination and creativity. What’s your go-to meal when you need a meal everyone is guaranteed to love?

Quesadillas with guacamole. And pasta, especially now that we’ve discovered Italpasta’s gluten-free blend of rice and non-GMO corn. You’d never know it’s gluten free!

I really enjoyed April's event, and am looking forward to visiting all the new vendors this weekend. I hope to see you there!

Gluten Free Garage

Where: Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St., Toronto ON
When: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Time: 10am-4pm
Cost: $10 for Adults, Free for children 12 and under

For more information visit:



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