A MEAT-LOV­ING fa­ther from LON­DON is be­hind the LAT­EST VE­GAN food TREND – with a LIT­TLE help from an ICONIC de­part­ment STORE.


Ryan Pan­choo still grins when he re­mem­bers the first time he saw his prod­uct on the shelves in Sel­f­ridges’ iconic food hall. “I took the whole fam­ily – kids, cousins, aun­ties,” he laughs. “I was so naive I didn’t even know what they were go­ing to price them at. That’s an­other thing I wasn’t aware of – cost price or mark-up. I was just amazed they’d taken a chance on me, a brand-new sup­plier with no idea of de­liv­ery into a big re­tail store.”

As start-up sto­ries go, it’s a sur­real one. A meat-lov­ing project man­ager work­ing at an in­vest­ment prop­erty firm be­comes a gluten-free and ve­gan dough­nut baker – and cre­ates the lat­est food ob­ses­sion to hit Lon­don. Bor­ough 22, the ve­gan dough­nut brand named af­ter the area where Ryan bakes the range in his home kitchen, has be­come a sell-out at Sel­f­ridges. And it’s a source of nour­ish­ment for mod­els at Lon­don Fash­ion Week, the trendy cake op­tion at wed­dings and has graced the cof­fee ta­ble of a pop­u­lar Bri­tish talk show.

All this suc­cess has stemmed from a fa­ther sim­ply want­ing his dairy­in­tol­er­ant chil­dren to be able to en­joy the same treats as their friends.

“When I first started bak­ing I def­i­nitely wasn’t look­ing for a new ca­reer,” says Ryan. “I was quite happy at my job do­ing what I was do­ing. I just started bak­ing as a ther­a­peu­tic out­let. My wife has got a gluten and dairy in­tol­er­ance and both my kids are dairy in­tol­er­ant. I hated see­ing the looks on their faces at birth­day par­ties when there were no treats they could have.”

This was more than a decade ago – Ryan’s el­dest daugh­ter is now 11 – and the ‘free from’ food in­dus­try hadn’t yet be­gun to flour­ish.

“The gluten- and dairy-free stuff they did have, even from ma­jor shops, would take all the moisture out of your mouth,” re­calls Ryan. So he started ex­per­i­ment­ing, first with brownies and then with dough­nuts.

He still had no in­ten­tion of sell­ing them un­til his sis­ter-in-law, who also suf­fers from food allergies, com­mented that she’d hap­pily pay for the baked treats. It was his wife, the writer be­hind the The Lon­don Mother blog, who saw a com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity and en­cour­aged him to start sell­ing his de­lights to the pub­lic. So, he set up a Face­book page.

“I got in touch with a cou­ple of coeliac groups and posted some pic­tures of the brownies,” says Ryan. “But I found out – quickly – that if you’re a coeliac, the go-to desserts are fresh fruit and brownies. Ev­ery­one is mak­ing brownies. It wasn’t go­ing any­where.”

This is when he shifted his fo­cus. “I posted a pic­ture of a dough­nut – and Face­book went crazy,” he says. “I was get­ting no­ti­fi­ca­tions left, right and cen­tre from peo­ple with food in­tol­er­ances who hadn’t eaten a dough­nut in 20 years. The next ques­tion was, how can I de­liver a fresh prod­uct to these peo­ple?”

Ryan cringes when he re­calls the way he ran his busi­ness in the early days – hand-de­liv­er­ing dough­nuts around the city on pub­lic trans­port, in the heat of sum­mer, with whipped cream run­ning down his fin­gers on the un­der­ground train. At the start, he was so ex­cited to have cus­tomers, he’d per­son­ally de­liver as few as six dough­nuts to any lo­ca­tion in the city, with any weird and won­der­ful flavour that any­one could imag­ine – all on top of his full-time project man­age­ment job. Af­ter a mem­o­rable week­end when he tried to or­gan­ise a ‘dough­nut rally’, de­liv­er­ing to towns across Eng­land, Ryan re­alised his busi­ness strat­egy re­quired a re­think. “I needed to look at what other peo­ple were do­ing,” he says. “There are some big com­pa­nies out there in the dough­nut world, like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. What are they do­ing and why?” He changed his min­i­mum or­der to a dozen and sim­pli­fied the flavours on of­fer (Bor­ough 22 now sells four va­ri­eties). Next, Ryan found the one courier com­pany in Lon­don that was will­ing to de­liver per­ish­able goods overnight, which al­lowed him to ex­pand his de­liv­ery range to the whole of main­land Eng­land. >

I needed to LOOK at what other PEO­PLE were do­ing. There are some big com­pa­nies out THERE… What are they do­ing and WHY?


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