FEEDING GLASGOW ONE DEELICIOUS CAKE AT A TIME
A favourite amongst the Glaswegian vegan community, Deelicious Geelicious is closing its doors on Saturday 22nd April. Fear not! You'll still be able to get your hands on their deelicious cakes as Deelicious Geelicious becomes a stand to order Bakehouse where you can order online and collect in store. Last month we caught up with the woman behind this treasure trove of vegan goodness, Gill Hutchison.
Last November I decided to treat myself, this was the year, after 5 years of veganism without a decent birthday cake, enough was enough. I did a little bit of research and was immediately won over by Deelicious Geelicious’s Instagram - ordering my pals and I the creme de la creme of what was on offer - a red velvet cake topped with cream cheese frosting. Some photos from dessert that night are still banned from public view… massacre doesn’t quite pay it justice.
Earlier this year I jumped at the chance to meet the founder, Gill Hutchison. As bright and bubbly as her Instagram account, Gill could literally sweet talk anyone into trying her delightful vegan versions of classic recipes. Deelicious Geelicious is located on Sauchiehall Street and has previously catered to the tastes of Sauchiehall’s elderly customers that are forever on the hunt for something sweet, and a cuppa to wash their soft chatter down. However there’s a twist in this seemingly traditional cosy cafe - around 90% of it’s cakes are vegan. In fact, you can purchase anything from a classic jam sponge to an oreo cupcake, or more recently the unusual but intriguing cake in a jar - and it’ll all be vegan.
Obviously Sauchiehall Street is quite a varied customer base. Who are your customers? “We get quite a lot of the younger adults coming in for vegan options, and students too as the halls are just around the corner. They’ll eat anything as long as it looks yummy I feel. And then older folk as well because I’m still doing old favourites for them.” Sauchiehall Street is a funny one, it’s the old person’s street by day and the young ones by night. Two of my favourite customers are a granny and her university aged granddaughter who’s a vegan. That’s
me and what I wanted in a nutshell - people to share together.”
I asked Gill if a vegan friendly space had always been her vision for the cafe? “I wanted the space to be a place where people could meet. Something that unites not divides… families to get around tables, I was really interested in the comments that VeganKind put up at Christmas time about Steak, Cattle & Roll and I was so interested in that environment where everyone could be there as a whole family and everyone could find something. So I started to add in some options, I’d be experimenting myself for our own selves; started to put them in and realised pretty quickly there was a huge demand for it and that’s how it’s grown. I’m trying to rise to meet the demand really.”
Do you feel that it’s more in-house business, traffic coming through, or custom pieces? “Well we’re 90% vegan now in terms of our baking, I still retain a little bit of nonvegan baking because we have a lot of valued customers who are non-vegan and I would definitely lose them and also I do want people to think it’s accessible in that they come in and they recognise things, I don’t want it to be that they come in and go ‘oh this is intimidating’ A little bit of comfort, a bit of familiarity? “A sense of nostalgia. I like to do my thing and appeal to the jelly and ice-cream in us all.” That’s quite refreshing, I think it’s really interesting - you take classic recipes and make them accessible to everyone. Not that I don’t love a raw cake but I think you cater for a different market and there’s a demand for that too that’s sometimes overlooked. “Absolutely - it’s a mix and match. Whether it’s a phase of clean eating, or a lifestyle choice people can do what they want to do but there comes a time - like your birthday, like the big occasion where you’ll want to have vegan, on-vegan - everything all mixed in together and to feel that it’s accessible to people. The thing I love best of all is when non-vegan’s are presented with the cake - and they eat it; and they are not told anything about what they are being served and someone says to them do you realise what you’re eating - and they are stunned. I absolutely love that. They have this idea that vegan is going to always be health food… and it’s not.” “My impression is that everybody still loves a birthday cake; and they want it to look like.. a birthday cake. You can still be ethical, still have dietary needs, and live a normal life. You don’t need to be marginalised or separate from the rest of the world in your own wee corner.”
Does your passion for inclusion stem from your husbands’ dietary requirement?” “Yeah there’s that, and I guess there’s also the point of view that - I came from quite a strict religious background so I feel that I’ve almost developed an allergy myself with things that cut people off from one another. I like the idea of bringing people in rather than saying you’re not part of us. I’d rather be plant based and take an ethical stand but there are a lot of folk that as soon as you label a product vegan, there’s an immediate wall.”
What’s your favourite egg replacement? “What I wanted was to take as many of the principles from traditional baking and transform it into whatever I was looking for at that point in time, be it vegan or gluten free. Egg replacements aren’t usually used; I do American style baking - using white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, the reaction with bicarbonate of soda and really just using the science of baking. I find the baking is the science and the decorating is the art, it’s a multilayered thing.”
It’s clear that Gill’s heart of gold is almost as sweet as the vegan treats she has to offer; however, for me at least, the real story here is her ambition for growth.
I asked Gill what her plans were for the future of Deelicious Geelicious: “I invested a massive amount of personal energy and emotion into this (6 months of experimenting!!). The order side of the business is relatively new and is taking off so that’s developing for now. We’ve now got ourselves in the position where we will (we hope) be able to deliver cupcakes by post and launch nationwide.” And that’s not all, Gill has promised me that 2017 is bringing in a blog featuring recipes and baking tips from Gill herself to help raise awareness of how easy vegan baking can be. “There’s nothing that gives me more of a kick than when somebody says to me I haven’t had a cake for so long, can you tell me how you do it? I didn’t develop this to hug the knowledge - I really want folk to benefit from it.”
Chucking herself in the unchartered depths of the social media ocean, endlessly researching, experimenting and creating new alternatives to traditional baking and running a full-time unit as well as a catering
service - can we have a round of applause for Sauchiehall Streets’ new power woman please?
Deelicious Geelicious, Biggars Building, 273 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, G2 3HQ