The Curious Fork Expands its Wholesale Gluten-Free Offering
Got a craving for a baguette or a bagel but been dealing with wheat allergies or celiac disease? The Curious Fork, a café and gluten-free bakery in Solana Beach is now providing baguettes, English muffins, bagels, and Belgium waffles to shops around San Diego so shoppers can enjoy them.
The products can now be found at Seaside Market in Cardiff, Harvest Ranch Market in Encinitas, Specialty Produce in San Diego, and Elixir juice bar in Del Mar. The wholesale move goes hand in hand with their brick and mortar expansion. Owner and chef Barbara McQuiston explained that they recently built out their kitchen.
"I'm just starting to expand for wholesale to better utilize the new kitchen," she said. "We can now get into local grocery stores and make it easier for people to get our product around San Diego."
The Curious Fork is also expanding its retail bakery and has put in an outdoor area for seating. The space, said McQuiston, is becoming a community center of sorts, where people can learn about cooking via their hands-on and demonstration classes. She's hired teachers many will find familiar from the now defunct Great News!, led by Culinary Education Director Katherine Afendoules-Emmenegger.
"The classes are accessible and help people celebrate life, but also help them when they're challenged, like a cancer diet," she says. She also offers classes for children.
McQuiston, whose first career with in the defense and aerospace industry for more than 30 years, started culinary school at the San Diego Culinary Institute toward the end of that career.
"I loved cooking. I grew up cooking and we always had gardens growing up. I'm celiac and so is my son. We finally found that out about 15 years ago, changed our diet and our health improved immensely," she said.
Following her graduation from culinary school, McQuiston did an internship at L'Auberge under Paul McCabe. She did some catering, and then sunk her money into The Curious Fork around 2012, finally opening the restaurant in 2014. The Curious Fork offers breakfast and lunch with evening cooking classes. Demand grew so much she had to grow out the bakery. The company still does catering, along with special events both on and off site.
Today, she uses her own flour blend to make pastries and breads, acknowledging that because she doesn't add preservatives, she has to do a little customer training so that they don't assume her baked products will be fresh for an extended period of time.
"Fresh baked means fresh baked," she said. "It won't have an indefinite shelf life."
With the expansion of her breads into wholesale, McQuiston is broadening the offerings customers have already been able to buy from her beyond The Curious Fork. Seaside Market, for instance, has been selling her pies. And, she said, she's also working with restaurants.
"We're still growing," she said. "It's only been three years, but it's been an interesting journey."
The Curious Fork is located at 512 Via de la Valle, Suite 102, in Solana Beach.