Being gluten-free is hard, but finding exciting companies to help cater to your needs doesn’t have to be! Smart Flour, which creates products using gluten-free ancient grains, is ready to help you love pizza again! We chatted with CEO Charlie Pace about Smart Flour’s pizzas and where the company is headed.
Downtown: How did the company start? What was the impetus?
Charlie Pace: After discovering I was gluten intolerant in 2009, I quickly realized how difficult it was to find satisfying, gluten-free dining options. During my search for foods that fit with my new lifestyle, I enjoyed a tasty gluten-free pizza at a local Austin pizza restaurant. I was immediately hooked on the ancient-grain crust that was produced by Gluten Free Kneads! I bought the company in 2011 and re-branded it as Smart Flour, thinking that name had broader appeal for pizza lovers everywhere. Eight years later, our products are now on menus in over 1,500 restaurants nationwide and our pizzas and crusts are in over 3,000 grocery stores across the country!
Downtown: What additional barriers do health-conscious companies have when coming to market?
Charlie Pace: It’s no longer enough to just offer a healthier product. Today’s better-for-you foods have to taste as good (or better!) than their conventional counterparts. At Smart Flour, delicious taste and whole-grain nutrition go hand in hand. We start with a certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project Verified crust that’s made with a unique flour blend of sorghum, amaranth, and teff. These naturally gluten-free ancient grains deliver a healthy dose of nutrition, as well as a classic taste and texture that pizza lovers crave. We also take great care in selecting our toppings, choosing clean, high-quality ingredients like a hormone-free, part-skim mozzarella, and provolone cheese blend and the best-tasting, nitrate/nitrite-free uncured pepperoni and hand-selected sausage in the meat versions.
Downtown: What was R&D for the product like?
Charlie Pace: Creating gluten-free products can be challenging, because you need to replace the strength and elasticity that gluten brings to traditional products. Our formulas were originally developed by scratch bakers who hit upon a unique combination of ingredients and nutrients. By making a trio of naturally gluten-free, ancient grains a prominent part of our ingredient list, we created certified gluten-free pizzas that are not only allergy-friendly, but nutritious and delicious, too. Our culinary-inspired flavors include Uncured Pepperoni, Traditional Margherita made with fresh Roma tomatoes and basil, Four Cheese topped with a blend of mozzarella, provolone, parmesanm and romano, and zesty Chicken Sausage paired with roasted red peppers, garlic, onion, and savory rosemary.
Downtown: What sets Smart Flour Pizzas apart?
Charlie Pace: An increasing number of products have ancient grains in them, but they’re often pretty far down in the ingredient list. At Smart Flour, sorghum, amaranth, and teff have always made up the foundation of our products and give our pizzas a healthy boost of fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals that far surpass other whole-grain and gluten-free options on the market. These grains also provide a tastier alternative to the bland, nutritionally-void rice and potato blends used in most gluten-free foods.
Downtown: What’s next for the company?
Charlie Pace: We decided it was time to show off our fun side and recently introduced an updated logo and new, colorful packaging that started rolling into stores this January. Keep an eye out for it next time you’re in the freezer section! This stand-out packaging is fresh and colorful, featuring gorgeous shots of our recipe’s ingredients like fresh cheese and chicken sausage. Smart Flour’s Pizza provides a modern take on a classic convenience food, appealing to today’s savvy consumers with a clean meal option that offers a boost of nutrition thanks to our crust’s ancient-grain ingredients. Using this unique, certified gluten-free crust as a base, we’re excited to be launching two new flavors this year! Our Kale and Sundried Tomato with a Garlic White Bean Sauce Pizza is for all the veggie fans out there. It starts with a sauce of pureed white beans and garlic, offering a lighter take on traditional alfredo sauce with a punch of protein. Hearty green kale is then paired with the sweet tartness of sundried tomatoes and a dash of oregano for a pizza that we think is unlike anything else on the market! For the ultimate meat lover, our Three Meat Pizza is topped with a robust tomato sauce and pairs zesty Italian sausage with spicy pepperoni and mouthwatering bacon. The meats are minimally processed and the pizza is made with simple ingredients, so there’s nothing to hold you back from digging right in! We can’t wait to share these new flavors with pizza lovers everywhere.
You can purchase Smart Flour products at grocers such as Whole Foods, Fairway and Shop Rite.