About Time You Met: Elena Golubovich, Founder of Beyond Bread BakeryBy Alicia Grimshaw
Beyond Bread is the creation of Elena Golubovich, specialising exclusively in gluten-free bread, cakes, pastries and all-day brunch. The first café opened its doors on Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia in early 2015, quickly followed by a second bakery on Upper Street, Islington in summer 2016 and a concession at Selfridges Foodhall in 2017.
The first of its kind, Beyond Bread is the leading authority on naturally gluten-free food, and now provides wholesale to premium retail stores such as Wholefoods and caters for bespoke orders for clients such as Stella McCartney and Facebook. We chatted to Elena about the idea behind Beyond Bread, the ever-growing gluten-free market, and the future of free-from produce:
You founded Beyond Bread in 2015 – how’s the journey been so far?
It has been very very fast, mainly because of the gluten-free sector moving from being just a niche market to it now being a massive demand, full category and therefore I’ve had to move super quickly with the pace of the market. It’s also been really exciting.
Why did you decide to open a bakery that’s entirely gluten-free?
Due to my health, I opted for a gluten-free diet to help with blood pressure during pregnancy and as I found that there were so little options, I realised there was a gap in the market to open my own.
Years ago, gluten-free options were sparse – how has the gluten-free market changed over time?
Tremendously – free-from sections in supermarkets are no longer small sections, but there are now full aisles in supermarkets, which now provide everything from gluten-free soy sauce to beer, and we’ve been a major part of this with a full selection of baked goods.
How has Beyond Bread been received by the non-coeliac crowd?
Really well! Many people with intolerances bring friends who aren’t coeliac; Beyond Bread allows them to feel better, offering choice not just restriction and lots of friends enjoy this aspect, knowing their friends who have intolerances are safe.
Further to this, lots of our loyal customers choose for taste not restriction, having originally visited with friends with restrictions and then realise they enjoy the taste, so have become regulars. We don’t want to stigmatise people with intolerances: no cross contamination, BB is a safe environment and we don’t want people to feel guilty or ill or uncomfortable, something I experienced when I went gluten-free during pregnancy.
Your breads are now stocked in Selfridges Food Hall – how did the partnership first come about?
Selfridges is a very good partner who we’ve worked with for more than a year – this shows the demand for gluten-free as even Selfridges want it and as such, is a good reflection of situation. Our other partnership is Whole Foods where we have 25 products, and we are their number 1 supplier in their free-from range.
For anyone looking to open a business – what advice would you give them?
Believe in yourself, be brave, and make sure you do your homework. Everyone makes mistakes but you must take risks to see success. Believing in yourself is definitely the most important advice I can give.
What’s your favourite item from the breakfast menu?
The French toast, which is actually my favourite dish on the whole menu. We make it with very rich brioche and it’s completely delicious.
Where do you think the future of gluten-free produce is going?
I believe it’ll keep growing, and to the extent that any conventional bakery on the high street will have a completely gluten-free bakery next door, and that it’ll be much more accessible and available, and not just high-end. I believe that gluten-free goods will eventually be competing with conventional products on equal footing.
Where do you like to eat in London?
At present, I like to eat at home. As I spend a tremendous amount of time working it’s nice to come home and spend time with my family. However, I always keep an eye on what opens and what is new. I’m really impressed with a newcomer in my neighbourhood, a new restaurant called 7 Saints in Notting Hill – it offers a really interesting selection of food with a focus on provenance. Brunch is Farm Girl, of course!
How do you balance running all your sites?
I’m running 4 sites at present; Charlotte Place, Upper Street, Selfridges and a production unit in Chiswick that is producing the Whole Foods Market, line as well. It is challenging but I rely on my fantastic team. Otherwise it would be impossible.
Where do you like to switch off in London?
I walk. I love walking around London as it helps me focus and unwind. I also find it visually interesting, as when I walk around different areas in London I learn a lot from each new area and discover new places.
Favourite place in London for coffee is:
Coffeeworks, their coffee is great and it is just pleasure to see the guys work. You can really notice that they love what they do!
For more information on Beyond Bread Bakery, see here.