Joshua Myers is interested in nothing less than a revolution. “I want to revolutionize the culinary industry,” the SUNY SCCC Culinary Arts student said as he pulled a tray of blueberry muffins from a piping hot oven.
He has already started this revolution in his baking classes at SUNY SCCC, exchanging ideas with chefs including Susan Hatalsky, a Professor in the School of Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism. His mission is clear: expand gluten-free options and have them taste really good.
He’s learning how to substitute gluten (proteins found in wheat products) with other ingredients, using applesauce and maple syrup in muffins, for example. “Nobody likes to have something that’s gluten-free that falls apart,” he said. “These ingredients make them really soft, but they still stay together.” Pizza? Joshua has that covered crushing sunflower seeds to make a delicious crust. He’s even perfected gluten free eclairs made with almond flour and egg whites.
For Joshua, his quest to not sacrifice taste with gluten-free foods was born out of necessity. When he was a senior in high school, he found himself in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in his hometown of Stafford, Va. He had lost 80 pounds, his bones were deteriorating and his doctors thought he had a genetic blood disease. But he was later diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
He is now eating a “paleo diet” with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts, and seeds. In addition to studying full time at SUNY SCCC, Joshua is the morning baker at Honest Weight Food Co-Op in Albany. He’s up before the sun making pastries including lemon raspberry lindsor bars (regular, gluten free and vegan).
Joshua’s dream is to open his own café or bakery. But for now, he wants to learn all that he can and continue to expand his repertoire. “I hope one day to open my own bakery,” he said. “But I want to be prepared. One day, I want to have some place with separate kitchens for allergies so it suits everybody’s needs.”