Those with coeliac disease in Sydney now have a fast food joint and bakery devoted entirely to them. At GFF (Gluten Free Friends), gluten-avoiders can tuck into fried chicken sandwiches, bacon and egg rolls, doughnuts, cookies and lamingtons without even having to ask about gluten. There’s not a speck of it anywhere in the kitchen.
“I’m a coeliac, and so’s my mum and sister, and we love food,” Christopher Palamara, who co-owns GFF with Kenneth Rodrigueza and Karen Rodrigueza-Labuni, the sister-brother team behind Donut Papi, tells Broadsheet. “Sydney was missing a place where people with gluten intolerance could have a wide variety of choice. We were chatting about it one night and the concept came together.”
At lunch, the hero dish is the fried chicken sandwich inspired by Popeyes, one of New Orleans’s most famous fried chicken franchises. GFF’s version features a brioche bun loaded with super-crispy fried chicken, pickles and mayo. Meanwhile, topping the brekkie menu is the sausage and egg muffin inspired by Maccas, but made with sausages from LP’s Quality Meats and a house-made pink sauce (a mayo-based sauce with ketchup, garlic, chilli sauce and pickle juice).
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Given the Donut Papi team’s involved, there’s (unsurprisingly) a serious selection of baked goods. Among the cookies are the Classic Choc Chip and the Birthday Cake, which features white choc chips and vanilla, and is topped with sprinkles. “When you bite into one, all you taste is a delicious, buttery cookie,” says Palamara. “You wouldn’t even know it’s gluten-free.”
Beyond the cookies, there’s plant-based soft serve, as well as a cornucopia of donuts (naturally), cheesecakes and lamingtons. The Bruce Lamington is chocolate cake sandwiching chocolate-butter cream, lathered in chocolate and rolled in coconut. The Pink Lamington is vanilla cake filled with jam, covered in white chocolate-strawberry syrup, and tossed in coconut.
Any sweet treat goes down well with a ceremonial-grade matcha sourced in Japan by Zen Wonders – be it the traditional green or the roasted, nuttier hojicha. Plus, there’s Gabriel coffee served any way possible, from single origins to batch brews.
GFF’s home is a cheery, welcoming, yellow-splashed space next to Marrickville Station. It fronts onto an outdoor terraced area where, pending local council approval, there’ll soon be seating for 20 or 30 people, at bright tables surrounded by greenery.
“We designed it ourselves,” says Rodrigueza. “We really wanted a welcoming, friendly vibe. There’s a real buzz in Marrickville at the moment. It’s fast becoming a food destination.”