The UK’s most exciting start-up food entrepreneurs: Borough 22 | Gluten free doughnuts
By Lea Tierney
Here’s another great food start-up story to inspire you to get out there and create something for yourself. Read on to discover how one person with a strong ambition and desire to succeed took the steps needed to create an amazing business. When you’re inspired enough to do it for yourself, take a look at our kitchens to rent around London or one of our food delivery kitchens if that’s the sort of business you’re going for. Lets hope Borough 22 gives you a couple of ideas.
Realising that none of his family could enjoy the baked treats he was creating to share with his colleagues at work (a combination of wheat and dairy intolerances for his own growing family) he started to experiment with free from ingredients, for example gluten free doughnuts; his goal was to create a product that tasted as good as “normal” products. It took countless hours and untold experiments, but he eventually created the right formula and in October 2014 he started selling his creations.
Founded by Ryan Panchoo from his home kitchen in the 22nd borough of London in 2014 after catching the baking bug during the “cupcake boom” of 2011, Borough 22 was the output of a love for baking and a requirement to cater for those around him.
Ryan’s doughnuts are free from the top 14 allergens, something he is especially proud of. It’s fantastic for free from foodies that such a brand is on the scene and, whilst we may want to keep them all for ourselves, these doughnuts are far from free-from only; chiefly because Ryan has found success in his mission to create treats that taste just as good as “normal” ones. With such a winning formula, it’s no surprise that Borough 22 has been going from strength to strength since starting out in 2014.
Having very recently gone from Project Manager for a property investment company that managed a government department by day and whipping up spectacular doughy treats by night; to now working full time on his rapidly expanding business, you may be wondering “did Ryan always know he’d end up working in food one day?” With his West Indian heritage, memories of the heady aromas of herbs, spices and Sunday roasts filling his kitchen at home alongside what he describes as a “Jedi level sweet tooth”, it’s not altogether surprising that Ryan began to practise his own form of “kitchen alchemy”. And perhaps his former day job as Project Manager is not so at odds with his now burgeoning business after all; as his love for baking is rooted in a love for the precise, accurate and methodical approach needed to create great bakes.
From experimenting with free from ingredients and making cupcakes in 2011 to unleashing incredible free from doughnuts onto the foodie scene in 2014, what’s the outlook for Borough 22 today? Well, Ryan’s doughnuts are currently stocked in 15 outlets across central London, Essex and Dundee including Selfridges, PiTCH, The Hackney Coffee Company, and Punk Me Up Ceramics café, to name a few, and Ryan expects a further 10 stockists to be added to the list this year.
Interested in what this creative foodpreneur loves to eat and fuel his business planning? Ryan confesses a long-standing love affair with Italian Buttercream, Brownies and Duffins, courtesy of Bea Vo (of Bea’s of Bloomsbury). Whilst his product is vegan, Ryan himself isn’t and, up until recently he would have been found anywhere renowned for slow cooked meats. However, since discovering “hands down the best vegan food I have ever tasted in my life” whilst collaborating with Timberyard at the Boxpark in Shoreditch it seems that Ryan’s personal food outlook is undergoing some changes as he’s now adopting a more plant based and mindful approach to his own food.
In terms of what else is next at Doughnut Towers, without giving too much away, Ryan hinted that exciting things were happening behind the scenes and we should expect more alchemy to take place in the Borough 22 test kitchen as he gets his creative genius back on – creating something special for a secret potential new supplier. I guess we’ll have to watch this space to see what happens next.