Bakery is a dream come true for Bermuda’s coeliacs
For coeliacs especially, Kim Pratt created Whisk & Spoon.
Her baked goods are all made with “wholesome, organic and high-quality ingredients”.
With the short shelf life of gluten-free goods in mind she decided to sell them frozen; customers can defrost or bake whenever they need a treat.
“I know that there are many people here in Bermuda who struggle – who either have coeliac or have gluten intolerances or are suffering with other allergies,” Ms Pratt said.
“Ultimately my baking has always been to give to others. I love doing it because I love the way that it makes other people feel and that in turn makes me feel really good.”
She fell in love with baking as a child, watching family members in the kitchen, and regularly made birthday cakes and treats once she had her own children.
“My son was then diagnosed with coeliac disease. So we had to figure out what all that meant, what that shift was in terms of diet and being safe within the home for him.”
Ms Pratt began experimenting and had such great success that requests started pouring in from friends and family.
“Many of my friends said I should consider selling my stuff. And so I thought about it and then I decided to give it a go.”
She happily launched Whisk & Spoon in 2019 but then started to suffer from “autoimmune issues”.
“Whisk & Spoon is a side hustle for me. I've always had a full-time job and so I was working and trying to manage it as well and then came all of the health issues. I had to take a break.”
The bakery was put on halt for about a year while Ms Pratt worked on getting her health in order.
“It's still challenging, and I still don't have a solid answer although I've tried many things,” she said.
At the beginning of this year she decided to try again. Ignite Bermuda’s Accelerator programme was a massive help.
“I worked in business but I didn't know a lot about how to do it myself, how to run my own business. It was really great going through that programme and I would recommend it to anybody who's interested in entrepreneurship. It's been huge for me and the development and the growth of the business generally.”
Ms Pratt does most of the baking herself “late nights, early mornings and weekends” but gets help from her family in areas such as social media and website development.
“So I do have people in the background helping me, but generally, I'm the one who's in the kitchen doing the baking and creating the recipes and all of that stuff and it's really been increasing in these last couple months, so that's what I'm trying to figure out now: what's the next step for us. Because I know I can't manage to keep doing that.
“We’re going to have to figure out what the next step is in terms of growth and opportunity for a space because we currently are doing everything in my home. I’d love to have a dedicated kitchen space. That's one of my goals.”
Whisk & Spoon offers a variety of dairy-free and gluten-free muffins, scones and cookies as well as gingerbread and brownies. Ms Pratt’s fruit and English Breakfast scones are standouts.
“As we go through the seasons we will bring new items in and take some off and then switch back and forth,” she said. “We have a really nice mix of items heading into Christmas, we've also just launched our Christmas boxes.
“We have two sizes that we're offering and those are special items that are not on our regular menu. The idea is to provide a box of goodies, just a couple of days before Christmas, for people who would like to have those items to enjoy on Christmas Day and through the holidays.”
Finding the gluten-free ingredients she needs to bake in Bermuda can sometimes be a real challenge. Ms Pratt, who is not a nutritionist, believes there are a lot more people with dietary problems than in decades past.
“Gut health is a huge issue for people. The foods that people are generally eating nowadays are processed. That's not good for our stomach and over time that's causing people issues and these intolerances are popping up.”
Everyday breads, cookies and cakes can be “high in oil and gluten” and other things that cause bloating and leave people feeling “just kind of unwell”.
“When they try to alter their diet by maybe taking out gluten or taking out dairy, they're seeing results,” Ms Pratt added.
“I also believe that in the more current years, since we've gone through this period of Covid-19, that it is knocking down people's immune systems significantly. I'm one of those people who experienced that.
“Mine actually was as a result of the vaccine. And then I think those effects are coming out now with people and so there are sensitivities, just autoimmune issues that are popping up for people and a lot of ways to help with autoimmune issues that you're having is to take a deep dive into the foods that you're eating.”
For many people that means cutting certain things out of their diet, said Ms Pratt who sees it as a worldwide trend.
While on holiday in Italy she was amazed to discover that people there were also struggling.
“You think everything there is so much more wholesome and naturally grown you wouldn't think they'd have so many issues. But I started asking questions and found out that their flour is too expensive for the average household to buy so they bring in flours from the US.
“That's what people are generally using in their home. And we know that flour made in the US, the normal flour, has a higher content of gluten and people are becoming more reactive to that.”
Back in Bermuda she has been pleased to see that her baked goods are meeting a need.
“I definitely knew there was a population out there. At first it was slow in terms of people finding out about it – I'm doing a lot of this on my own; I don't have people out there telling my story for me. So it's taken a little bit more time for it to get out there but it certainly has.”
Requests are now coming in for bread and pizza dough and other things that are not on the menu. Ms Pratt is interested in expanding but wary of moving too quickly.
“Quality is the most important thing to me. [It’s what] makes my customers happy. So I want to ensure that my product is what they want and it's up to the best quality.
“So everything that I do I test several times and bread is one of those things that’s super finicky, especially when you’re trying to make it gluten-free. But it’s something that I definitely want to be able to offer to our community. I know there’s a demand for it and when we can do that it will be great.”
• Whisk & Spoon’s gluten-free goods are available atgfbda.comand from Wadson’s Farm. Follow whiskandspoonbda on Instagram and Facebook. Delivery is available from Warwick to Flatts Village