Lady York Foods sounds very proper and English but it’s anything but. A local, independent, Italian-owned grocer, Lady York caters to the continental tastes of its diverse Toronto neighbourhood with such a variety of high-end, largely Italian goods that shopping there becomes a process of discovery—just like shopping in a market in a Neapolitan piazza. The biggest surprise, however, is that Lady York is also THE place to shop for imported gluten-free goods. GF enthusiasts from across the city make the trip regularly to the corner of Dufferin Street and Glenbrook Avenue for what’s become a go-to for top-shelf, specialty gluten-free staples and snacks. Responding to customer demand, Lady York adds more gluten-free products, both imported and local, to its shelves every week.
“Lady York has the best selection of gluten-free products from Italy that I can’t find anywhere else,” says Mimi Green, who’s been baking and cooking gluten free for her family ever since her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease nearly 20 years ago.
Lady York co-owner Gabriele Torchetti let us in on how this 55-year-old family-run Italian grocery store has become a champion for the gluten free.
When and why did you start carrying gluten-free products?
We got into the general “health/natural” category about 25 years ago, which naturally included a few gluten-free products, along with organic.
How big is the gluten-free category for your business today?
It has surpassed the organic category in our store and it’s continually getting bigger. We sell more than 70 different gluten-free products.
What are the most popular gluten-free products in the store?
Our bestsellers are the imported cookies and pasta. Our most popular imported brands are Farabella, Scotti, Viazzo, Sarchio, Palmisano and Lazzaroni.
Are most of your gluten-free items imported?
I would estimate that the breakdown is 50% imported and 50% local at the moment, with the imported products—mostly from Italy, where they are very gluten-free savvy—growing a little bit faster.
How do you source the best gluten-free products?
Our best resources are our customers and our gluten-free-designated sales representatives/brokers. We take customer requests seriously. We always try to bring in items that customers ask for because they almost always turn out to be bestsellers!
Along with its treasure trove of imported GF goods, Lady York also carries some of our favourite gluten-free products such as Italpasta, JK Gourmet, Neal Brothers, Bix Bakery, enerjive, Hippie Foods, Enjoy Life Foods, Tonica Kombucha, Nomz, Wow Baking Company, GAGA for Gluten-Free and more…