I recently had lunch with Kim Holstein of Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels and she could not be any nicer or more inspired by her work. I was treated to a warm gluten-free pretzel and Mediterranean Salad (sans the feta). The gluten-free pretzel was actually really good and has a biscuit like flavor and consistency. There are many gluten-free products on the market but it's not easy making a gluten-free pretzel that is soft enough to form that classic pretzel shape.
To give you a little background info, Kim and Scott met at a Chicago book signing by author Richard Bach, who writes about soulmates and airplanes. As they say, "We decided to express our joy by flying high together inside a passionate soft pretzel business and nurture the world with our deliciously twisted and inspired products." I love a good love story! Speaking of love, Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels were born out of Kim's kitchen after much trial and error. Apparently, they got it right because they just celebrated their 15th anniversary as a Chicago pretzel bakery. For the past 15 years, they've been baking all natural, nut-free, hand-twisted soft pretzels. Their stuffed, soft pretzels can be found in the frozen aisles of many grocery stores. The pretzels are also free of trans fats, hydrogenated oils and preservatives. They plan to launch a frozen gluten-free pretzel in the near future.
Kim & Scott's Cafe Twist opened in May of this year near at 2218 N. Lincoln Ave. You could dine in or get lunch to go and enjoy at the nearby Oz Park for an allerg- free picnic lunch. The cafe is darling and the staff is warm and friendly. The menu offers sandwiches, pretzel dogs, soups, salads, smoothies, cocoa and coffee. Other allergy-free treats include vanilla or chocolate soy milk for those that are allergic to dairy. They also sell the highly addictive gluten-free Sweet Potato Chips made by Food Should Taste Good that I am snacking on as I write this. Note to self: clean keyboard of yummy allergy-free salty snack particles.
Their allergy aware cafe is inspired by their personal connection to children with food allergies. One of their neighbor's children has a severe nut allergy. Kim's niece also has severe allergies to peanut butter, eggs and dairy. As a mom, Kim understands how truly serious food allergies are and is committed to the struggle families face when trying to find safe places to eat out. They wanted their product to be nut-free, delicious, and safe for everyone. Kim told me that a teen customer had her very first butter and jelly sandwich which was a sunflower butter and grape jelly Bavarian Pretzel.
While I can't eat everything on the menu I do appreciate their creativity. Kim says she is constantly thinking about new flavors. How does a vanilla cheesecake stuffed pretzel sound? Why should "flights" be limited to wine? They have a Twisted Flight of Pretzels that includes a variety of pretzels, pretzel knots & dips.
You can also "Twist Your Own" pretzel meal or try their popular Twist 'N Top, where children of all ages can twist, paint, and decorate their very own pretzel creation. You make it and they bake it, that includes the gluten free pretzel. Kim & Scott's also has catering and delivery. If you are not in the Chicago area, pretzels can also be ordered on-line.
Kim and Scott are very dedicated to many charitable projects. Pretzel Dough is a program they developed in 2009 which raises "dough" for much need school programs. Their Pretzel Power program brings high-school students into their bakery for an internship opportunity where the students could receive school credit. Pretzels for Peace supports organizations that fight all forms of bigotry and discrimination, educates our children on diversity and works to promote peace in communities. Kim & Scott's donates pretzels and dollars to events such as the Breast Cancer Walk, Special Olympics, and MS walk, and numerous youth organizations. Pretzels are also donated to food banks for the homeless. Their Green Twist Program was launched on April 1, 2008, they plant a tree when a customer becomes a member of the Pretzel Club. They have partnered with Trees For The Future, an organization founded in 1989.
Their website has lots of praise from customers and media. If you want to check it for yourself they are open Monday through Friday at 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays they are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.