13-year-old Isaac has made a name for himself with his coeliac-friendly creations.
Four years ago, Gluten Free by Isaac made waves in Geelong as the town’s first gluten-free baking business specializing in delicious and 100% gluten-free cinnamon, jam, Nutella and custard-filled donuts.
Created by young entrepreneur Isaac Tulemija, who was just nine years old at the time, the business sought to meet the demand for gluten-free treats in the region for those living with coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease affects one in 70 Australians and occurs when a person’s immune system reacts abnormally to gluten causing the bowel lining to become inflamed and flattened. Isaac was diagnosed at six years of age after a short display of symptoms over three weeks and he generally remains asymptotic but takes gluten avoidance seriously and adheres to a strict gluten-free diet.
It’s the disease that inspired Gluten Free by Isaac.
“The idea for my own business started on a family holiday to Hawaii when was nine, where I was in awe at the ease of obtaining gluten-free foods and became frustrated by the lack of understanding that some food establishments in Australia have regarding Coeliac Disease,” Isaac reveals.
“My Mum and Dad spoke to me about how I can’t just sit back and let this lack of understanding continue, and that if I’m not happy, then I would need to do something about it.
“We talked about readily available foods I missed and fresh donuts were what I missed the most. That really was how it all started, as my parents spoke to me about being able to do anything I want to when I grow up.”
With incredibly supportive parents at the helm and love for those holey, doughy treats, Isaac began baking… and he hasn’t stopped since.
Work out of a registered, exclusively Gluten-Free kitchen, Isaac has been working hard to build his product range over the years, as well as continuing to find local stockists in the Geelong region that are prepared to safely store and handle his delicious products.
First up, of course, there are the donuts – which originally kicked everything off for the business. Isaac offers two styles of gluten-free donuts, iced and filled. The filled donuts are delicious, soft, bite-sized GF donuts filled with either jam or Nutella and coated in cinnamon sugar. These can also be made unfilled, with custard or dairy-free. Then there’s the iced donuts which come either as chocolate or strawberry and finished with various toppings.
Another one of Isaac’s hero products is his gluten-free wagon wheels. These huge rustic-style treats feature hand-made biscuits, topped with jam and house-made fluffy marshmallow, and coated in a delicious milk and dark chocolate blend.
In more recent years, Isaac also added giant pretzels to the gluten-free range. An honour to the traditional German bread-like pretzels, these are hand-rolled, bathed and then baked, just as traditional pretzels are. Delish!!
Filling the giant gap in the gluten-free donut market in Geelong, the community got behind Isaac’s burgeoning business with a bunch of cafes stocking his products. Current stockists include the likes of Cafe Palat, Steampacket Foods, Forrest General Store, Soft Cafe, and Brian’s Gourmet Meats.
Alongside providing the region with delicious, handmade gluten-free treats, Isaac is also passionate about raising awareness about coeliac disease and breaking down the barriers and myths to this disease. You’ll often see facts and stories about coeliac disease via his socials (which is managed by his beautiful parents), and when he delivers the donuts to one of their stockists, Isaac trains them on how to store and handle the donuts properly to avoid contamination.
In all Isaac’s efforts to raise the profile of coeliac disease, he actually became Coeliac Australia’s first young ambassador back in 2018.
What an absolute powerhouse, and all before his teen years.