Welcome to the Gluten Free Galaxy, a new food truck-based bakery and bistro that features an all gluten-free menu.
From their space-themed 22-foot truck on the Boise Bench, Hilary Lee and Richelle Greene sell a litany of gluten-free wares — from sandwiches on rolls made with one of Greene’s gluten-free flour blends to gluten-free cookies, cinnamon rolls, soups, pizza-by-the-slice and other specialties. Greene uses local and organic as much as possible.
“We intentionally put a lot of value into our sandwiches and pizzas,” Lee says. “We want people to feel full after they eat one.”
They also offer vegan and vegetarian options, including a vegan pizza made with house-made cashew cheese.
Gluten-free is one of the biggest trends in the culinary world. It’s spurred by a condition known as gluten intolerance, an auto-immune disorder caused by a reaction to the protein in wheat (all varieties), rye, barley and other gluten grains. It runs on a spectrum from mild to severe.
Awareness of gluten-free issues has grown in the past five years. Most Treasure Valley restaurants have a gluten-free menu, or at least a few gluten-free items to choose from, and there are more gluten-free products available at mainstream grocery stores.
Gluten Free Galaxy is believed to be the only 100 percent-gluten free food truck in the Treasure Valley.
Some who aren’t familiar with the trend or think gluten-free has no flavor might be intimidated. Don’t be.
Ada County Sheriff’s Officer Jason Jones stops by on Fridays for a bowl of Greene’s New England clam chowder.
“It’s great clam chowder and no, I’m not gluten-free,” he says. “I’m a regular now.”
These two dynamos do-si-do down the galley-style kitchen as they juggle customers at the front window and pizza by the slice at the rear. They work to make it fun, injecting humor into their sci-fi themed menu and their truck with its side panel. Greene painted it in her spare time.
“I love everything science fiction and outer-spacey, that’s why we’re a galaxy,” Greene says.
Menu items include the “Don’t Panic,” a turkey, bacon, avocado and cucumber sandwich named after a line in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and the Grootwich, a vegetarian sandwich named for the Marvel tree-like character “Groot.”
Lee grew up in Boise; Greene in Meridian. They met last year while working at Jake’s Gluten Free Market in Boise and decided to embark on their own gluten-free adventure.
“She’s the creative side,” Lee says. “She can make anything gluten-free, and it tastes good. I’m the entrepreneur. I told her, ‘If you want to take this entrepreneurial leap, I’ll hold your hand.’ So, we did it.”
Lee and Greene started their business by baking custom orders under cottage law in Greene’s house over the winter. Greene and her family have celiac disease — the extreme version of gluten intolerance. Greene has been cooking gluten-free for 18 years, and her home kitchen is completely gluten-free. Lee started having gluten issues a few years ago.
Finding a gluten-free commercial kitchen is often difficult because most kitchens that are available to share are multi-use facilities, and cross-contamination can be an issue for the very sensitive. So Lee and Greene decided to create their own and converted the truck into a fully-functional gluten-free commercial bakery/kitchen. It contains a large oven and mixer, sandwich station, refrigerator, freezer, prep area and more.
With its weight and the power the truck needs to operate, it’s not very mobile, so they don’t often take it out to events, Lee says.
“But our customers know where to find us, and we have a lot of regulars already,” she says.
It is a little off the beaten path, even for Boise’s food truck scene, they admit, but many people are making their way there from word of mouth.
“I heard about it on Facebook from friends of mine,” says Michael Angel, who recently found out he needs to eat gluten-free. “You pull up with all the construction, and you think, ‘How would anyone know to come over here?’ But I like the menu and the fact that I’m gluten-free and a vegetarian and they have stuff for me, make it worthwhile.”
The Galaxy is parked at the corner of Alpine and Garden streets, in the vicinity of Orchard and Franklin streets, on property owned by Lee’s family, who own and operate B & W Wrecker Service.
Lee has her entrepreneurial sights set on a larger operation. She would like to develop this slice of the galaxy into a small food-truck park. Lee started events such as a Saturday night weenie-roast and Sunday brunch. The next step, she says, is to develop a small shipping container-business park.
Gluten Free Galaxy
The food truck at 4531 Alpine St. is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Check out specials on the Facebook page for more information. Find the menu and make special orders at GFGalaxy.com or call, (208) 451-2030.