There's an award-winning pizza crust in Denver, and you can find it at more than one restaurant — including eateries already known for great pizza, like the Good Son, Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria, the Crafty Fox, Denver Deep Dish and Silvi's Kitchens. The Gluten Free Explorer, a Denver gluten-free bakery founded by Victoria Wolf just last year, makes thin-crust and deep-dish pizza crusts that it sells to a growing number of restaurants around the metro area. And Wolf just recently won first place in the gluten-free division of the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas, beating out some thirty other bakers from around the world.
Wolf has followed a gluten-free diet since 2007, but at the time, she swore that she would never attempt to make gluten-free baked goods at home, since she wasn't much of a baker and didn't want to have to settle for an inferior product. Still, her love of pizza led to sampling — and rejecting — most of the commercially available pre-made crusts and flour mixes.
Wolf originally started the Gluten Free Explorer as a food blog in 2012, but she and her husband and business partner Rich Ouellette decided to make their recipes for a wider audience. In 2013, they got serious about trying to make a better gluten-free pizza at home, and after two years of testing came up with a formula good enough that they thought they could sell it. They launched the company from a commercial kitchen in January 2015; since then, their product line has grown to include two kinds of pizza crust, sandwich bread, French bread and hamburger buns.
Wolf's focus has been on creating baked goods that can stand on their own and aren't just substitutes for wheat-based products. "It's about the food for us — it's almost a movement for me," she explains.
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This year, Wolf made plans to attend the International Pizza Expo, primarily as a way to find clients who would carry her pizza crust and to learn more about the pizza industry. It was a last-second decision to enter the competition, but her chicken, bacon, broccoli ranch pizza ended up winning. Her entry was not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free, because she didn't want to serve a pizza to judges that she couldn't eat herself.
Wolf notes that her deep-dish pizza is good enough that the Good Son, which offers thick Detroit-style pizza on its menu, carries her brand instead of gluten-free dough from Udi's, a company that was founded by the Baron family, owners of the Good Son; the family sold Udi's several years ago, keeping their restaurants. Wolf has recently added sweet baked goods to her lineup and also sells a lemon-cardamom pound cake to the Good Son.
Home cooks can purchase all of the products on the Gluten Free Explorer website, and the pre-made pizza crusts and French bread rolls are available at select Natural Grocers locations.