The first completely gluten-free deli in Greater Manchester opens in Altrincham this weekend.
Off The Wheaten Track is opening on Oxford Road on Saturday and will serve breakfasts, lunches and snacks, and will also have a retail offer of gluten-free products.
It’s all the brainchild of Hayley Hadfield, who was inspired to set up the business by her husband Dave, who suffers from coeliac disease, the lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten.
She explained: “It’s always been a dream to open a deli and when I decided to make the vision a reality we were umming and ahhing about whether to just have gluten-free options, but the more research I did we realised that there aren’t any completely gluten-free places in the Manchester area – so I think we’re the first!
“That means there are no concerns about cross-contamination. A lot of coeliacs don’t actually eat out because they’re scared of getting poorly. Being a coeliac isn’t a choice, it’s a serious auto-immune disease, so I thought I’m going to go 100% for it and here we are.”
Coeliac disease affects one in 100 people in the UK, but the Coeliac UK charity estimates that around 500,000 people have not yet been diagnosed.
Hadfield said that now was the right time to open a gluten-free deli because people were becoming more and more aware of food intolerance.
She added: “People are changing the way they eat. The convenience market is starting to turn on its heel a bit, people are becoming more aware about what they’re eating and what’s going into their food.
“I come from a generation where everything was cooked at home – my grandma taught me to bake when I was six or seven with flap jacks and Victoria sponges, and you knew what went into your food. You’d make a roast dinner on a Sunday and on Monday it would be a Shepherd’s pie, on Tuesday it would be something else. Then suddenly microwaves were invented and people became too busy to cook and suddenly convenience food was here.
“I do think that of lot of intolerance has come from the number of additives and preservatives that are put into food that the body just can’t tolerate. I actually suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I follow a wheat-free diet – if I eat bread I expand like a balloon, which I think is down to the fact that so much bread is mass-produced that it’s probably still fermenting in your stomach.”
Hadfield has sourced most of her products locally. Alongside cheeses, cooked meats, pies, cakes, pancakes, omelettes, homebread flat breads and gluten-free bread, Off The Wheaten Track also has an alcohol license and will sell wines, Dunham Massey ciders and gluten-free lagers from First Chop brewery in Eccles.
It’ll open from 8am to 6pm and four part-time staff have joined for launch.
Hadfield, who worked at Rubens in Altrincham Market up until a couple of months ago, added that you definitely don’t need to have an intolerance to visit.
“I’d challenge anyone who doesn’t have an intolerance to see if they can taste the difference,” she said. “Obviously it’s for coeliacs to come in and enjoy food that previously they haven’t been able to enjoy for fear of contamination, but they’ll also bring friends and family with them who aren’t coeliacs. It’s for everybody.”