Though the gluten-intolerant once got the culinary shaft, wheatless fare has definitely been on the upswing of late, from Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup flour to zero-gluten restaurants like Asian Box and Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. Now, the local gluten-free culinary scene is getting another big upgrade: its very own high-end food magazine. GFF (which stands for Gluten-Free Forever) is a new project from former Chron and SF Mag food writer Erika Lenkert, photographer Maren Caruso, and designer Catherine Jacobes. Their goal is to highlight amazing food that just so happens to be gluten-free, in a stunning visual package to rival the likes of boutique-y food magazines like Lucky Peach or Cherry Bombe. "There's tons of gluten-free community on the Web, but no one's really created a print publication that's beautiful and inspiring for people who love food," says Lenkert.
Lenkert's own gluten-free lifestyle is the driving force behind the project: having given up bread, pasta, and beer way back in 2001 after some stress-related health issues, she's quietly continued a career as a food and recipe writer for the likes of Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food & Wine, and InStyle. Even her closest colleagues weren't aware of her sensitivity until recently, even as she wrote cookbooks that were more often than not gluten-free (yet unadvertised as such). Caruso, a prolific food photographer who shot Daniel Patterson's Coi cookbook, and Jacobes, who runs custom publishing company The Book Kitchen, aren't on the gluten-free bandwagon, but saw an opportunity to work with Lenkert on a publication that would allow all three to unleash their creative talents.
"Chefs make great dishes every day that just happen to be gluten-free," says Lenkert, who wants to highlight some of the custom options chefs have made for her at restaurants. Though the magazine's reach will be international, there's a strong Bay Area presence: Bread SRSLY's Sadie Scheffer will have a profile in the first issue (with one of her loaves on the cover), Yoni Levy of Alta CA is contributing a salad recipe, and Lenkert is also in the process of talking to Hiro Sone (Ame), Craig Stoll (Delfina), and Niki Ford (Chez Panisse, SHED) for potential stories. She'll also use her own recipe skills to tackle some of the biggest stumbling blocks for gluten-free home cooks, like dim sum, lasagna, and piroshki, all displayed with sumptuous photos and layouts from Jacobes and Caruso.
The trio are looking to raise $90,000 on Kickstarter to make GFF a reality, which will go into editorial, printing, recipe testing, and design costs. $15 buys a print copy of the magazine when it hits the presses, while $10 covers a digital copy. Deep-pocketed GF enthusiasts can also throw in $50 for a subscription or $2,000 for a package that will include a gluten-free dinner cooked by Stoll, Sone, and other top local chefs. Should the campaign succeed, Lenkert says she plans to publish the 96-page first issue in the fall, with subsequent issues running quarterly.