Guest Blogger: Gillian James
Some events are unforgettable, even though 20 years have passed..and funnily enough the date was Friday the 13th. I was at work and my child care provider called, saying that my son Sam was having an allergic reaction to something. I live in a small town and was there in 5 minutes. By then, Sam was very swollen in the face and his arms and legs were covered in hives and I was given a list of everything he had eaten that day. We rushed to the doctor's office, he administered adrenalin and right away the hives started to diminish. Then the doctor gave Sam some Benadryl (slower acting but longer lasting) and one more shot of adrenalin before we got into the ambulance to go to the hospital, one hour away. The reaction settled down quickly for Sam after that (he actually fell asleep in the ambulance) but after allergy testing, I was now faced with the daunting task of avoiding peanuts at all costs in all situations.
At that time, nut warnings were fairly new and many products that I wanted to use were either substandard or had the dreaded 'may contain nuts' warning. As a chef by trade, I realized that there was a need for delicious, nut-free products and I started adapting some of my favourite recipes. This marked the beginning of my business, Nut-free Gourmet Cookie Dough. My goal was (and still is) to use the same top quality ingredients my grandmother used with nothing artificial or unpronounceable....butter, fresh eggs, pure chocolate and unbleached flour..and no nuts, ever! Since 2002, our cookie dough has been available in stores such as Whole Foods, Bruno's and Pusateri's and many independent grocers.
The next time Sam went to the doctor for a vaccination, he was stoic until we left the office, when he broke down crying. When I asked what was wrong, he sobbed, "I did't get to ride in the ambulance after my needle like last time."
Sam is 22 now and has outgrown his allergies, but the business he inspired is still going strong.
You can get some of Nut Free Gourmet's cookie dough through our Fall Fundraiser. Buy yours today - the fundraiser is on through November 10.
Gillian James is a mother of three and a qualified chef. Born and raised in Montreal, Gillian earned her chef's papers at George Brown College in conjunction with an apprenticeship at the Board of Trade in Toronto.
Gillian worked both restaurants and private clubs in Toronto before moving to Apsley, a small village north of Peterborough, to raise her family. While catering and working seasonally at local resorts, she started baking cookies and selling them through local stores. The cookies were very well received and within a few months, someone asked about buying the unbaked dough for a fundraiser and they bought enough dough to make 17,000 cookies!
Since then Gillian has been busy making cookie dough for both fundraising and retail clients.
In her 'spare' time. Gillian works with her husband in his auction business, Apsley Auctions and enjoys cooking, hiking and foraging for wild food in the forest near her home.