Food, Products

Gluten-Free Croissants: Dream The Impossible Gluten-Free Dream

36 Comments 29 December 2011

gluten free croissant proceli
Gluten Free Croissants by Proceli

2011 has has nearly blown my mind. 

I have so much to tell you, but I don’t want to blather on with a never ending telenovela, so I’ve broken up my European adventures into a series of posts. I’ll try to publish them on each Friday; a little brain candy for those of you who are interested.

I thought I’d start with what might be the most exciting gluten-free discovery of the year… gluten-free croissants!

gluten free croissant
Chocolate croissant or classic?

Earlier this year I opened a mysterious email.  It was from a gentleman by the name of Joan [pronounced Joe-on] Turull, the president of a gluten-free food company named Proceli. I was personally invited to come visit Barcelona, Spain as his guest and tour the headquarters. I use the word “gentleman” because he even invited me to bring along a friend in order to feel more comfortable with the situation and to make clear his intentions were honorable. He made it clear he wanted to talk to me as an expert about the gluten-free market in America.

The name Proceli is the combination of the two words “pro” and “celiac”.

I think I had an adrenaline hangover for about one week! You could say I’ve somehow managed to travel a lot of the world in cava style on a cerveza budget, but I’d never been to Barcelona before. I had to think about it. NO, not really!!!

Barcelona’s airport was a stark contrast compared to La Guardia or JFK , and it’s the visitor’s first exposure to the passion Spain has for design.

I was nervous, “What does this guy look like? How are we ever going to find each other?” I called myself a few degrading names for not having arranged a plan for some sort of tell-tale sign, like wearing a red scarf or something.

Phew! It wasn’t a problem finding each other after all! Joan stood out from the crowd beaming with Spanish hospitality, euro-chic attire, bright blue eyes, and olive skin.

My good friend Jasmine was due to arrive in two days. She was my first choice as a companion for four reasons; she’s a powerful businesswoman in the world of finance, she speaks fluent Spanish, her palate is refined, and most importantly, she’s always a good time! I knew I would feel more at ease on this adventure with her around.

Joan promptly took me to breakfast near the hotel. We got better acquainted over some jamon and tortilla de patata.  I was ravenous after the long night flight.

As I stuffed my face while trying to keep my eyes open, Joan went through the itinerary he had planned as a most gracious host. “Today you will rest, tomorrow I will pick you up and we will go to lunch at Cal Pep. Afterwards, we will visit the chocolate museum that my father owns, and then we will visit Sagrada Familia.”  

Rewind! “…chocolate museum my father owns”!!! OMG!!! I might have been half asleep but my brain cells registered as if with a jolt of theobromine that he’s basically the son of Willy Wonka! I quickly said to myself, “Do NOT give him the organic Oregon chocolates that you thought were such a great gift idea!!!”

Joan Turull learned the art of baking as a young man while working with his father in their family owned bakery. (Now his father is the leader of what tranlsates into English as the patisserie society of Spain and famous people like Albert Adria have apprenticed with him.) Joan has even competed and won some awards at the baking equivalent of the olympics in France and Japan.

Joan Turull Cropped
Joan Turull, President of Proceli

Patrons of the bakery started asking for gluten-free items and Joan took on the challenge. In true entrepreneurial style, he branched out on his own in 1976 by starting Proceli and creating only gluten-free products. Growing leaps and bounds it is now sold in 15 different countries in Europe and now there are 40 gluten-free products to choose from.  Many different food allergies are accommodated with a clear chart on the labels and the products are certified by just about every possible certification you can qualify for in Europe. You can find an assortment of their items at the popular Il Corte Ingles stores in Barcelona and Madrid. There is also a store locator on the website.

So, back to the croissants, if anyone could create gluten-free croissants, Joan Turull could. This quixotic quest was perfectly suited for a pastry chef with a Spanish pedigree. After all, Spain is the land of Ferran and Albert Adria, Gaudi, and Cervantes!

My friend Jasmine is not gluten-free, but has eaten in some of the finest restaurants in the world. So, she was the perfect person to take with me to the Proceli headquarters for a tasting. Imagine a board room table full of gluten-free treats! It is true that a lot of gluten-free products, although delicious, do not taste exactly like their glutenous counterparts.  Consider too, that Jasmine’s palate hasn’t adapted to a gluten-free diet. She kept a rating system for each sample and many of them she exclaimed were as delicious or more delicious than the real deal! The gluten-free croissants were well received.

Proceli door
The entrance to Proceli headquarters in Terrassa.

At the time of our tour, the gluten-free croissants were still being made by hand! This is something that deters most companies from attempting to produce them.

(I would have taken photos, but they weren’t allowed within the facility.)

The Proceli gluten-free croissants and other products are not yet available in the US, but continue to “dream the impossible dream” of eating gluten-free croissants soon! For now, you can keep up to date with Proceli on their English Facebook page. There’s also a Spanish Proceli Facebook page. And you can also follow Proceli on Twitter and Joan Turull directly via Twitter.

[sexy saxophone music]

Stay tuned when I share my adventures visiting the Museu de la Xocolata, Sagrada Familia, Cal Pep and Albert Adria’s new restaurant!


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Your Comments

36 Comments so far

  1. 1

    Hi Kelly,
    I’m assuming you couldn’t taste anything due to the cornstarch in every product? 🙁

      Kelly says:

      Yup…another good reason Jasmine came along! 🙂 But no worries…there were many treats I enjoyed…I’ll share soon!

  2. 2

    Those croissants look incredible! So nice that you are able to travel to such wonderful places and so lovely of you to share with all of us.
    ♥ U
    Aunt Jayne

  3. 3
    MARILYN says:

    Can his products be ordered in the states?

  4. 4
    Nan says:

    I am jealous! It was a great adventure, thanks for letting us in on the info!

  5. 5
    Deborah Shear says:

    Ok, this story is nothing short of amazing! And, I promise you right now, I AM AVAILABLE for any future trips, ANYWHERE!
    xoxo Deb Shear

      Kelly says:

      Deb!!! my love, so nice to hear from you!!! And you would be a hoot to travel with so I’ll keep you in mind! 😉

  6. 6
    Dianne says:

    Is he receptive to the idea of using arrowroot? I know it is more expensive than cornstarch, but for those of us who must use it as a cornstarch replacement we would be willing to pay the extra cost. I am french and would love, love, love to eat a gluten-free croissant.

    When the bakers who invite you to their facilities become aware that gluten and corn is a big no-no for some, what is their reaction? I’m always surprised that they seem unaware of it.

      Kelly says:

      Dianne…I know, it is because corn is the forgotten step child of the food allergy family! I think is mostly because of cost. I hope to inspire some to serve us!

  7. 7

    That croissant has one too many fashionable wraps around its flaky body and one too many shades of golden deliciousness to be from my kitchen. This pastry would be very happy in the US. Please attempt to convince it to visit!

  8. 8

    Greetings! I am in Madrid as I am typing this! Your post about Procelli is great news and so humurous! My daughter lives in Madrid and is always sure to have GF items for me, so I have let her know this. Thank you! Btw – We visited Barcelona last Christmas time, and found it to be beautiful! Next time you visit Spain, let me know, and I will connect you to each other. Bon appetite!

  9. 9
    Kirstin says:

    I got a chance to try these AMAZING croissants at G-Free NYC when you were there. I LOVE them and I can’t wait till they come to the states. Do you know the ingredients of the margarine? Just curious. WHAT A FUN ADVENTURE YOU HAD. Looking forward to hearing more.

  10. 10
    Kelly says:

    Kirstin…so nice to hear from you! Thanks for the testimonial! 🙂

  11. 11

    Are you kidding? Gluten-free croissants! Barcelona! Fascinating Spaniard! You just described every fantasy I’ve ever had all rolled in one.

    Nice work. Nice. Work.

  12. 12
    Lady Beret says:

    Omg! Gluten free croissants! They seriously need to get those things in the USA man! I miss croissants. I haven’t had one in like…..3 years! Yum!

  13. 13
    Shelli says:

    Sounds good to me! :o) All I had to read was “croissant”, and I was sold.

  14. 14
    Rodica says:

    Wow,this is a great story!!!I am from Europe and I am planing to visit on summer,hopefull I will find those croissants:)
    I just start my diet gluten free,honest to be…I don”t know if I can keeper,I love sweets,cookies,croissat,pizza…and I dont know what produce have gluten free or noI dont even knoe from where to start:(((I stay away from bread.
    CAN i ASK YOU SOMETHING?the chocolate have gluten?how about cheese?
    Thank-you very much

  15. 15
    Kerrie says:

    So does this mean that in barcelona we should be able to find these products easily.Am travelling in April next year

  16. 16

    It is great to see such forward thinking in the French towards Celiac disease. Finland is another country who seems to place a priority on addressing the needs of the gluten free community. Here in America it would be great if we could get our legislators to pass a bill requiring clearer standards toward identifying products labeled as “gluten-free”. I know the 1 in 133 act was sidelined last year despite strong backingand unity online from celiacs nationwide. Let’s hope it gets readdressed and standards are set in place for celiacs everywhere.

  17. 17
    Michelle says:

    I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2009. It has been a challenge to find tasty bread and pastry treats.
    Any word on these being available in the U.S. yet?

    Love the website! We need to get the word out to everyone….grocers, restaurants, etc.


  18. 18

    That is such a brilliant story! I will be trying the gluten-free diet to see if it helps my allergies, which often cause sinusitis. Finding your blog is a blessing!

  19. 19
    Anita says:

    I went to spain in March 2010 and fell in love with the proceli products. When I came back home to NY I emailed the company to find out when they would market to the US. I am anxiously awaiting, I have never tasted anything gluten free that tasted so good.

  20. 20
    Joyce says:

    Hi!, I discovered these croissants in 2006 while in Madrid, Spain at the Il Cortes Ingles grocery. Both the regular and chocolate filled croissants melt in your mouth and are are the very, very best of any gluten free anything that I have had anywhere in the world! I have served them to non gluten-free guests and they thought that they were great but mostly I reserved them in the freezer for my own special treat. The other Proceli gluten free products are good as well. I loaded my suitcase with the croissants for the trip home. I then wrote the Proceli company to please find a distributor in the US. They wrote me back stating that they were looking for such a company but in the meantime I could buy them from the UK. As my daughter was with the US Embassy in Madrid she continued to mail them to me during her too short 2 year stay. I have been dreaming of these ever since.

  21. 21
    Lynne L says:

    Was accidentally glutened today…feeling under the weather, but your wonderful adventure perked me right up! How about we push for distribution in ALL of North America (i.e. Canada too, since I’m a little envious up here!). We are so lacking in GF products up here…seriously. The majority of places up here seem to have a thing for cupcakes, which is great, but there’s only so many you can eat! Ah for a croissant! At this point, I would SNORT it LOL. Glad you had a great time when you went in December, you lucky gal!

  22. 22
    Eugenia says:

    Just thought some of you might want to know that you can also get delicious gluten free croissants right here in the US as well! carries them although they don’t recommend shipping, but call Rose and she may be able to do something for you! Rose’s is located in Evanston illinois…Meanwhile they also stock some of the best breads and cookies that I’ve ever had and the pitas are great too!

  23. 23
    Sean says:

    Wow. A fresh croissant from a bakery in Montreal was the last thing I ate before I started a gluten free diet. I would love to eat a croissant without resorting back to genetically modified wheat flour.

  24. 24
    Michael says:

    I’m dissapointed. I’ve been gluten free for ten years and I’m travelling with my family in Italy I’ve read about gluten free croissants and how they are at breakfast and farmacias. I have stopped in dozens of farmicias in Rome and Florence and
    ,, asked in gluten friendly places, and havenit seen one. I’ll find unicorns first……

    Going to Venice next. Any ideas?


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Kelly Courson


Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.

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