Among many of Fresno’s best bakeries, one thing is often missing: gluten-free options for customers craving a cake they can actually enjoy.
Varouj Kachichian, who recently launched a gluten-free bakery, Indulge Right Foods, realized there was significant demand for gluten-free cakes and baked goods in the Valley.
“Obviously, we opted to go completely gluten-free, because there’s no such thing in Fresno,” Kachichian said.
“If you’re gluten-free in Fresno, you rely mostly on grocery store produce, or every time you’re out of town, you have to pack it up and bring it back.”
Great need for gluten-free products in Fresno
Kachichian has owned and operated several bakeries, cafes, and restaurants in Fresno and San Francisco over the years.
As a 32-year-old chef, I was worried about dabbling in anything to do with baking, because it can be very time consuming.
However, it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity 12 years ago that he began to change his lifestyle, his diet, and ultimately his business practices and use of baking products.
He became a certified gluten-free practitioner, and two years before the pandemic, Kachichian began making its own gluten-free, sugar-free, and keto-friendly bakeware.
Additionally, he was able to expand and convert much of his office and manufacturing space by opening a gluten-free bakery next door.
“This particular unit was basically our office, so I thought about converting it,” Kachichian said. “It happened that in one day I had people asking me when I am going to open a bakery. So I finally said, OK, that could be a sign that I need to open a store.”
High demand keeps Kachichian busy
Kachichian Bakery has been open for over a week.
He says he started with a small menu even though he had hoped to offer specialty items from the start.
Unfortunately, Kachichian is still looking to hire more bakery chefs to help keep up with demand.
The first day the store opened, Kachichian says they ran out of baked goods in the early hours and customers kept coming back for more.
The shop offers gluten-free loaves, muffins, brownies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies and pastries, among other desserts.
For those interested in baking at home. there are Indulge Right vegan and non-vegan sugar-free caramel and chocolate sauces, and unique gluten-free flour blends.
For Thanksgiving week, the bakery sells bags of gluten-free filling, as well as gluten-free apple and pumpkin pies.
A lifestyle change is good for your gut
For a long time, Kachichian did not take his diagnoses seriously, considering “gluten-free” products to be nothing more than a fad.
For years, he ignored doctors’ advice to switch to a gluten-free diet before finally giving in.
Almost immediately, her health improved without having to compromise on the foods she enjoyed most.
“When I actually stopped eating gluten, all my problems, if you will, my back pain, neck pain, joint pain, just went away, right?” Kachichian said.
“So that changed my whole health… but that led me to find out, what is it? How could one ingredient make such a big difference?
An extended GV Wire YouTube interview with Kachichian is at this link. To listen to the podcast interview on Spotify, click this link.
Why is it so hard to bake gluten free?
Despite the changes to his diet, Kachichian was wary of opening a bakery.
In general, baking is quite challenging and time consuming. Plus, it can get a lot more confusing when you remove the one ingredient that’s commonly used in baking.
In fact, if you’ve ever tried gluten-free baking, you’ll often find it’s not as easy to replicate the same flavorful recipe as the original.
And, of the few gluten-free products you can find in stores, the items can often taste stale, lack flavor, or in some cases, lack flavor at all.
Kachichian says gluten-free baking is even a challenge for most experienced chefs in the industry.
Old tried and true recipes for common pastry staples need new recipes, new machinery, equipment, and a whole set of new ingredients to replace what one ingredient can usually do.
“When you’re mixing dough, you can’t mix it like regular flour. So a lot of the understanding that you have as a trained chef from a gluten perspective or as a pastry chef goes out the door,” Kachichian said.
“If you follow the same thing as regular baking, you won’t get it. It’s totally different. and we’re lucky to have most of the equipment we need to be able to do it, so we’re not struggling with it, and as demand grows, we can grow with it.”
Store owner hopes to expand gluten-free options in Fresno
Given the success of the bakery opening, Kachichian hopes to expand its products throughout Fresno by providing local Valley restaurants with gluten-free flour mixes.
“The most important thing has been not being able to eat like a normal hamburger. There are some buns out there that you almost have to eat the bun separately because by the time it hits the table, it has already absorbed the juices from the burger and is falling apart,” Kachichian said.
“We’d definitely love to reach out and make sure almost every restaurant has some options to offer so that when we dine out, we don’t feel deprived,” Kachichian said.
Enjoy Right Foods Location
The store is located near the northeast corner of Shaw and West avenues behind Dutch Bros at 5096 N. West Ave.
You can also find them online here or visit their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.
The bakery is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.