From what once started as a pie in the sky has become a blossoming business.

Two years ago, Denise Pendleton moved to Sheffield and for love nor money couldn’t find a job. She was once part of the management team at Egg cafe and loved it but couldn’t get a food related job anywhere. One day hungry and bored of handing out CV’s in Sheffield city centre she was sat outside Greggs almost in tears as there was no where she could eat or grab a quick bite and go. Denise has been veggie for 15 years and had to go gluten free 4 years ago after being told she had coeliac disease. That’s when it hit her, like an iconic pie in the face or an apple pie-shaped light bulb above her head – “gluten free pies”.

That afternoon she went to the supermarket and bought a load of ingredients. Denise and everyone around her ate pie every night for weeks. After roaring feedback she set up a Facebook page and took the plunge to book herself into a market in Rotherham on International Women’s Day. It started at 10am and she was sold out by 11am. The markets became more frequent but the one constant was that she kept selling out. It was love at first bite but despite the success, Denise became increasingly home sick so decided to bring her gluten-free empire back to Liverpool.

There are 8 different flavours and everyone has their favourite. Choose from Mexican chilli & sweet potato, chickpea, spinach & coconut curry, Moroccan butterbean, blind scouse, leek, potato & whole grain mustard, apple pie, cherry & almond, blueberry and an exclusive Mattas curry pie that’ll have you panting for oxygen and milk but always going back for a second bite. You can find them at Mattas, Maggies Farm, Sugar and Dice, Lovelocks, The Baltic Social and soon to be more places very soon. Being gluten free is a lot better now than it used to be but it’s still remarkably tough. Especially if you’re meat free too.

We finished the interview with Denise by asking her what’s been her favourite part of this journey so far:

“When people come and buy pies from me at a market you’ll often find me hugging customers as they are so happy they can eat. People buy 10+ at a time. It’s mad really. If you can’t make the farmers markets the best place to get one on my pies is from Mattas take it home put it in the oven to crisp up, get yourself a tin of mushy peas and a bottle of tommy K and you’ve got a dinner fit for kings.”

photo by Helen Wilkie

You can follow Denise’s journey on Facebook. It’ll be one worth watching.