Meet Luke Lucas of Foddies in Camberwell
Article posted: August 21, 2018
Meet Luke Lucas. He has a very grand vision for a business with a difference – and it all began as he fell in love.
Mr Lucas and his partner Christina Glentis run Foddies in Camberwell which offers not just gluten free food but low FODMAP food (suitable for people who can’t absorb certain carbohydrates).
“Myself and my partner Chrissie follow the LoFo (low FODMAP) lifestyle,” Mr Lucas said.
“I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Chrissy has fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance.
“When we were dating we realised that there weren’t many options available to us – either eating out or at home – so we set out to do something about it.”
That something was Foddies – a specialty food brand that produces a range of low FODMAP, gluten free and other allergy-friendly food.
And when those products became so popular the couple decide they needed somewhere for people to come to sit-in and enjoy them.
So, the Foddies cafe in Camberwell was opened just three and a half months ago and it’s already garnering a big following.
Already Mr Lucas believes his speciality food business is the first of its kind in the world but he also has plans to be the largest in the world.
“We’re first in the world doing what we are doing,” Mr Lucas said.
“We are trying to build a diversified food brand that has retail presence, a packaged food business and a wholesale business.”
They also want to supply other businesses with their product.
“Our vision is to be the largest speciality brand in the world,” Mr Lucas said.
Getting started in the food business
Mr Lucas said setting up the business was “downright terrifying”.
“My background was in finance and Chrissy was a registered nurse, so the learning curve was fairly steep. But we had a really clear goal to change the world for people like us and wanted to make it happen,” he said.
“Three years in, we’ve had our challenges but we’ve done what we said we were going to do and are on track to keep doing more. We are happy we took the risk.”
Mr Lucas said the last few months have flown by.
“We absolutely love being in Camberwell. The community is not only really supportive but just lovely to be around as well. Hospitality is obviously a very social business and being among and around friendly, welcoming people makes everything better,” he said.
Taking food allergies seriously
Foddies takes its attitude to food very seriously, ensuring integrity in its production process.
“We have fairly strict procedures in place to minimise the risk of cross-contamination, particularly with gluten-free food,” Mr Lucas said.
The cafe has dedicated work and service areas for gluten-containing foods, dedicated appliances and utensils, and a deep fryer that cooks only gluten-free products.
“We also make the majority of our food ourselves, so we know what goes into the dishes,” Mr Lucas said.
“We are really careful with cross-contamination as we know what the consequences are if you get it wrong.”
He said Chrissy is the foodie of the pair and is “incredible with recipes and inspiration”.
“She really focuses on foods that aren’t typically available to people with dietary restrictions or those that are popular and trending but also unavailable to people like us.”
He describes his partner as “really incredible” bringing a passion for food and cooking to the fore despite having no formal qualifications.
“Her skills really came out of necessity – needing to find substitute ingredients that would maintain that authentic flavour and would be pleasing to a fussy audience. It started form there and developed to the point where she is able to build menus, products and recipes on her own from scratch. Remarkable!”
A promising future
Foddies attracts a range of customers from those following a LoFo lifestyle to those who just want to eat healthily when they are out.
They come from across Melbourne, interstate, New Zealand and even further afield.
“We have had people from the US and as far away as Norway eat with us,” Mr Lucas said.
“Of course, we also have people who live locally who come to enjoy our delicious food.”
And the journey has just begun for the Foddies team.
The couple is still learning but has big plans.
They are looking for a replacement for their recently closed cafe in Albert Park (an end of lease closure) and while their packaged products are available in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, they hope to get them into the remaining states and territories.
There is also talk of franchising the Foddies cafe.
“We have had people express interest in opening a Foddies. We would also like to start exporting our products in 2019 as we know there is demand around the world,” Mr Lucas said.
Visit the cafe
393 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell
Phone: (03) 9882 7510.