Allergy Free

Couple cooks up success without gluten

By Gabrielle Myers
April 2024

Creamy, luscious mint chocolate chip ice cream. Fluffy, tangy strawberry muffins. Mouthwatering brownies and English muffins. As people become aware of food allergies, these treats have been cut from many diets.

Thankfully, Pushkin’s Bakery offers an alternative.

Years before moving to town, I longed for baked goods but was unable to find much. When I discovered items I could eat, they were dense, lacking in flavor and expensive.

Then I heard about Pushkin’s, on 29th Street next to the Sacramento Food Co-op. I checked the online menu and ordered a large Hammer Time Sandwich. Walking into the small shop, I was in awe of cookies, cakes, muffins and buns that I could eat without getting sick.

The sandwich—tender ham, airy bun with firm crust, fig jam and pesto—took me back to the joy I felt as a child, when I could enjoy a sandwich. The double chocolate chip cookie completed the dream.

Founded by Danny and Olga Turner when they were students at UC Davis and Sacramento State, Pushkin’s evolved from Danny’s food allergies. When the pair first lived together, Olga learned to create desserts and breads Danny could enjoy without regret.

Pushkin’s expanded from a small business selling products to local grocery stores. Now it’s a growing local chain with four outlets.

In addition to the Midtown bakery, the couple opened Sibling on Capitol Avenue, a brunch, lunch and dinner restaurant. There’s a J Street ice cream, donut and sandwich café called Babes, and a bakery and restaurant in Roseville.

Everything is gluten-free. Almost all menu items are dairy-free, including ice cream.

The couple’s careful approach to allergens shows in the menus. It’s refreshing to ask servers what’s in an item and actually trust the response. Turner says staff are trained to know each product and identify potential allergens, such as soy or corn.

They blend their own flour and have their own machines, which rules out a big source of potential gluten contamination. The bakery’s gluten- and dairy-free, all-purpose mix—called AP—can be applied to any traditional recipe.

AP mix contains California rice, sorghum, tapioca and potato starch flours. It’s the base for every recipe. Other ingredients from the base make various products. Customers can buy AP mix.

“What keeps me inspired is how kind and loyal the customers are. We love them. We have the best customers ever,” Danny says.

Bakers and business owners work long hours. When I ask Danny what motivates him through endless workdays, he says he and Olga have control over their potential. There’s no limit.

With about 170 employees and plans to open in Folsom and Arden, the motivation and drive are apparent.

Gabrielle Myers can be reached at Her forthcoming book of poetry, “Break Self: Feed” and book “Too Many Seeds,” can be ordered from Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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