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Ted Wolff von Selzam

Ted Wolff von Selzam is the most unlikely person to be on the culinary and business cutting edge of gluten- and wheat-free foods.

Untrained as an allergist or food chemist, during the early 1990s, he nevertheless began developing foods so that those with a hypersensitivity to wheat and other food intolerances could enjoy baked goods.

For 3 1/2 years, Wolff von Selzam, a former social worker, operated a health food store in Stade, Germany (a small town near Hamburg) where he studied cooking. He came to Edmonton in 1986, and enrolled in a YMCA entrepreneur program, intent on developing a small business.

He chose the niche market of dietetic specialty foods, concentrating on baked goods and cooked entrees that were free of gluten, wheat, eggs, yeast and other ingredients that wreak havoc on the digestive systems of the hyper-allergic.

In the early days, Wolff von Selzam developed and prepared his foods at the Queen Alexandra Community Hall kitchen, spending up to three months developing something as simple as a gluten-free loaf of bread that tastes like food rather than medicine.

He would then sell the foods at his farmers’ market booth, as he earned his stripes as a small businessman and amateur food research scientist.

Since those early farmers’ market beginnings in 1991, Wolff von Selzam has operated a 500-square-foot street-front shop, a larger shop with a café, and the current 40,000-square-foot development, production and sales facilities. Wolf’s products, marketed under the name Kinnikinnick Foods Inc., are found in more than 1,200 grocery stores, gourmet food shops and specialty shops catering to those with dietary concerns. The company also has considerable Internet presence through its website, www.kinnikinnick.com.

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