We are the Ryabkov family, and we are the creators of Summer Bistro. What motivated us to start a dedicated gluten and dairy free eatery?
Our story started ten years ago when our son was diagnosed with a severe digestive disorder requiring him to eliminate wheat and dairy from his diet. If you start reading food labels, you will quickly find that all these foods are found in almost every prepackaged or prepared food. At that time, health food stores were just starting to appear and there was very little available in regular food stores that was ‘safe’ to feed our child. Luckily for us, I (mom) had already several years experience cooking in restaurants, on vessels and oil rig camps in northern Alberta. I also had formal training in Food Service and Dietary Management. I found myself pulling from all my previous food service skills to feed my child. Preparing meals; stocking up our freezer with cupcakes, muffins, chicken fingers, dumplings, etc.; preparing batches of mayonnaise, you name it, I was making it! Sounds like all I did was make food from scratch. But the hours I didn’t spend in the kitchen I was designing custom homes from my home office.
Where was dad during this time, he was earning the money, working at sea, to support our medically necessary very expensive diet governed lifestyle.
Meanwhile, our son was growing up hearing a lot of “No’s” and “Not for you” whenever we took part in social outings and school functions. I always made sure he had an alternate, but I know he was never convinced that his alternate was as good as the food everyone else in the group was having. He just wanted to be like all the rest, to not stand out. As the years went on, more gluten friendly and non-dairy food options because available in local restaurants. It was exciting times to be able to eat out! Nathan quickly realized that the options in the restaurants just weren’t as good as mom’s (that’s me 😊). Before long he was having friends over for meals. They got to try Nathan’s food. “Wow! Best I ever had!” Ok, Mom’s gluten free, dairy free cooking seemed to be pretty good and loved by everyone (we didn’t make a big deal out of our foods being gluten and dairy free, all natural and organic. The food was just good, and everyone loved it). You know where this story is going, don’t you?
After much encouragement (from my husband) and many requests (from our child) we decided to invest everything into starting up an eatery where we could help others live well with their dietary challenges. We felt that perhaps the universe had brought us these challenges so that we could learn from them and in turn help others. Thanks to my long history in food services and long time career in building design, I was able to design a new eatery, complete with a building renovation, known today as Summer Bistro Ltd. (aka Summer Bistro).
Summer Bistro is truly a family business, built on community, with a mission to help others live and eat well despite their dietary restrictions.