Gluten Free Never Tasted so Good
Photo and story by Courtney Cobb
A homegrown business, Josie’s Best Gluten Free strives to make glutenfree products with a classic taste and texture.
CEO and founder Josette Johnson’s journey started more than 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with food allergies in her late teens.
“There was just nothing good to eat, and what was OK to eat was really hard to make,” she says.
One of Josette’s favorite things is having waffles or pancakes with her family on Sunday mornings.
“I would cook myself a pancake I could eat on a Sunday morning, and then I would cook some for my husband because the stuff I ate was kind of weird and he didn’t like it,” she says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘OK, there has got to be a way that we can do this and have the same meal.’” Josette started experimenting, and developed the pancake recipe consumers can now buy online and in stores. It is the same recipe she made in her home in suburban Boston.
The family made its way back to Central Oregon by way of California. Josette’s husband is a Central Oregon native, and the couple wanted to raise their children in the area.
Products Designed for All
Josie’s Best Gluten Free offers a variety of products for consumers, made in a facility free of gluten and eight other common allergens.
“This is important because a lot of people have different allergies,” Josette says. “If you are gluten-free, you might also be nut-free, and also soy-free or dairy-free.”
With the mixes, consumers can add eggs and milk, or make it vegan.
The company offers four products: The Pancake, The Crepe, The Waffle and The Muffin & More all-purpose blend. Josette says the Muffin & More opened up many doors to consumers and stores because the mix can be used for rolls, breads, cookies, brownies, pie crusts and more.
“It’s really fun and versatile,” she says. “I probably use that one the most because I use it for all my baking in general.”
The blends come in 18 ounces and 5-pound packages for consumers, as well as 5-pound and 25-pound options for restaurants or food service.
“On Amazon, we have some multipacks, but those are special there,” Josette says. “You can buy them at all the Market of Choice stores in Oregon, Newport Avenue Market and Food 4 Less.”
The product is available at Whole Foods, Locavore, CE Lovejoys and the Camp Sherman Store. Several boutique stores and small grocery stores around the country stock the brand. Consumers can order directly from the website, www.
Many restaurants within and outside Central Oregon use Josette’s mixes, such as The Original Pancake House, McKay Cottage and Tumalo Coffee House.
Seeing her products on the shelves is still a thrill.
“My kids, when we are in a grocery store, will shout out, ‘My gosh, there is your stuff,’” she says with a laugh. “I try not to let myself bask in that too much, but it is really awesome.”
An Entrepreneur in Central Oregon
Josie’s Best Gluten Free is a small business.
Employees include Josette, her husband, a part-time person to help with social media and Amazon, and occasionally Josette’s three children. She says her kids are more often cheerleaders than employees.
Being an entrepreneur in the Sisters area has been a good experience for Josette. She says the community is very supportive, and many people have reached out to help.
“There are a lot of people I can bounce ideas off of,” Josette says.
She says consumers’ participation in her business matters. She encourages buyers to tell the grocery store how much they loved it, or review the product on Amazon or social media.
“That’s truly how our business has grown,” Josette says, “organically, through people like that.”
Josette says she would like to introduce several new products to consumers in the next few years, and offer tutorials on how to use the mixes.
“On social media, we have a narrative where we take requests for recipes,” she says. “We do little tutorials to be genuinely helpful to people with food allergies and making them food that’s yummy with classic tastes and textures.” n
For the 2019 holiday season, Josette offered customers a locally made spoon with her mixes.
PHOTO BY COURTNEY COBB