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West Valley City • One of the best cheesecakes in America is made inside a West Valley City bakery.
The pink pomegranate cheesecake from Gem City Fine Foods — a certified gluten-free bakery — earned a silver medal earlier this year in the Specialty Food Association’s Sofi awards.
The rich and tangy dessert — on a gluten-free cookie dough crust — rose to a second place finish in the overall baked goods category ahead of 2,600 entrees, most of which where contained regular flour products.
“Not to brag,” said Gem City CEO Lisa Cox, “but it’s really difficult to make a gluten-free dessert that people can’t tell is gluten-free. "
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But Gem City has mastered the technique. The recent Sofi award is the company’s third in four years.
Gem City’s blueberry lemon loaf won in the Best New Product category in 2020; while its flourless chocolate torte — the company’s top seller — won a bronze in the gluten-free category in 2018.
“Over the years,” said Cox, “we’ve kind of evolved to be kind of a niche establishment that caters to food allergies and special diets.”
Adding that the winners are selected through a blind tasting process and are considered innovators in their respective categories.
The Gem City bakery and its line of products — which also are nut-free — have a Safe Quality Food or SQF Level 2 certification and are sold in grocery stores across the country. In Utah, Harmons Grocery Stores just began selling the cakes, tortes and cheesecakes. They also are available at Whole Foods and Natural Grocers.
While the commercial bakery, 3403 S. 1400 West, is closed to the public, Cox said the company does hold public bake sales before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Details are are usually posted in advance on the company’s website and Facebook page.
Cox said the company did well during the pandemic thanks to its individual-sized cakes. All six flavors of cheesecakes are sold in three-inch individual size, so is the chocolate torte. “Our sales have been climbing,” she said, “and it’s almost exclusively because of our smaller sized items.”
Before the pandemic, those smaller sizes made up about 40% of total sales. Now they are closer to 70% or 75%, she said. “That’s what people want now.”
The bakery began in Sugar House
Cox said Gem City’s started in 2005 as a small traditional bakery in the Sugar House. It was owned by a woman named Beverly Hill and was called Beverly Hills Cakes.
“She had some great recipes,” said Cox, “and our [current] owner, Rich Kent, bought the company from her in 2010.”
In 2012, it moved to its current West Valley City location, a building that had previously been occupied by Morrison Meat Pies, a well-known Utah company.
“We went through a big cleaning and sanitizing,” said Cox, “so that we could be dedicated gluten free.’
At the time the bakery was called Blossom Fine Foods, said Cox, but a large Canadian company that made a sold a pie-like “apple blossom” pastry said the Utah name infringed on its trademark.
“We contested their claim and lost,” said Cox. “So we changed our name to Gem City Fine Foods in 2014. And we’ve been around under that name ever since.”