By Helen Mitternight
When Anne Caroline Bethea moved back home to Charleston, she thought she would bring her meal delivery service she started in 2011 with her. While working for Ralph Lauren and American Express, she had been having some success in her off hours with the service in New York, where workers were desperate for quick and healthy lunches that didn’t require them to leave their desks.
In Charleston, however, we “lunch.” So, despite A.C.’s yearning to return to the marshes and beaches surrounding the city, the city didn’t automatically welcome her business.
“No one here is as tied to their desk as they are in New York” A.C. says. “People here actually leave and go for a stroll for lunch and aren’t judged for leaving.”
We also “breakfast” in Charleston, and it was during breakfast that A.C. noticed that there weren’t really any gluten-free, vegan and allergy-free alternatives in the biscuit-heavy Holy City.
Moms that A.C. spoke with agreed: They had a hard time finding treats for their children who had allergies.
It was time for A.C.’s business, Bib.On, to evolve, and she rented a commissary kitchen in North Charleston this past December to start turning out sweet doughnuts that are vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, but not flavor-free.
A.C. has no formal training as a chef, but she says she reads a lot of recipes, asks a lot of questions and experiments voraciously, learning from her mistakes – like the time the doughnuts didn’t rise because the water was at the wrong temperature.
The doughnuts are baked rather than fried and they use organic vanilla bean powder rather than extracts. A.C. uses flour from Bob’s Red Mill “because I believe in what he’s doing. If I can’t source something locally, then I’m going to at least source from someone who has the same values because it’s important not just to eat good food, but to eat the food from producers who have good energy behind it.”
She focuses on nutrition rather than caloric content.
“It should probably be called a Pro-Nut rather than a doughnut, because it’s got so much protein,” A.C. says. “We make it with fava bean flour, brown rice flour, and we use coconut oil and applesauce as combiners.”
The doughnut flavors will change by season, but the most popular flavors will be perennials: vanilla cinnamon (A.C.’s favorite), blueberry lemon (organic blueberries are frozen so she can offer these all year), and rosewater (“blended with a tea that has calming adaptogens in it”).
A.C. first started offering the doughnuts at farmers markets in the Myrtle Beach area, but wanted to expand. She now offers the doughnuts every day at Basic Kitchen on Wentworth Street, and on King Street at Beech (the first day at Beech, the restaurant sold 10 dozen doughnuts) and Skinny Dip Café.
“I can’t tell you the joy when I get an email from a mom saying, ‘My son ate his first doughnut!’” A.C. says. “It’s my favorite pun, but people are just eating it up!”
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