After working in restaurants, running a catering company and co-writing the Leiths Techniques Bible, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne founded Genius Foods, launching the first soft, fresh gluten free bread across the UK. Genius remains the UK’s leading gluten free bakery brand, selling its innovative products globally.
Life before Leiths
Following her graduation in physiology from Queen Mary’s College in London, Lucinda spent four months working as a PA in a media company to raise funds to go towards the Leiths Two Term Diploma.
What drew you towards a career in food?
Lucinda’s family founded and ran the bakery and hospitality company Lyons for over 100 years, and although they encouraged her to become a doctor or a lawyer, Lucinda felt the food industry was simply “in her DNA.”
What happened after you graduated from Leiths?
Lucinda has had a varied career as a chef, food writer and product pioneer for people living with dietary restrictions. “I learnt a great deal at Leiths and wanted to first hone my skills at one of London’s Michelin starred restaurants, Bibendum. After a valuable year working as a CdP here, I worked in Tuscany cooking for art and architecture tourists and learning as much as I could about Tuscan and Umbrian food.”
She then went on to run a catering company in London for three years before returning to Leiths as a cookery teacher, and to co-write the Leiths Techniques Bible. Whilst writing this book, Lucinda had her first two sons, both of whom had serious food allergies, so she decided to write How to Cook for Food Allergies, which demonstrated how to successfully substitute the common allergens; eggs, dairy, nuts, soy and wheat. This led to the development of an iconic gluten free bread recipe - the beginning of Genius Foods.
What do you love most about your job today?
“As a mother of sons who have to avoid gluten and dairy, I have found huge fulfilment in creating delicious, readily available products for people obliged or choosing to live gluten and dairy free, so they can continue to eat normally and conveniently. Creating the structure of bread or croissants without gluten, for example, is technically very challenging so it is hugely satisfying to successfully scale these recipes for launch in the major multiples - a mammoth task that requires great effort and thought from a large team of experts, often based all over the world.”
Any wise words for future grads?
“Don’t worry if you are not sure which area of “food” you would like to work in when you graduate. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and use your highly regarded Leiths qualification to gain the very best and most challenging work experience you can muster. My time at Bibendum was extremely challenging - in addition to learning so much from Simon Hopkinson, the high pressure working environment and the exacting standards expected from the chefs, has stood me in excellent stead for meeting book deadlines, developing products and running a business.”