Tummy pains, anemia, and unhealthy weight. Since she was little, she had lived with these constant discomforts. Doctors had treated her for gastritis, irritable bowel, or stress. Until in 2015, the tummy pains became practically unbearable and other symptoms were added: hair loss, reflux, mouth sores, a swollen abdomen and permanent fatigue. Finally, after visiting different offices, Rocío Garaguso managed to get a hematologist to order blood tests to diagnose celiac disease. And the studies confirmed his picture.
“I received the diagnosis of celiac disease after a year of consulting doctors and having wrong diagnoses. Chance -or not- all that happened a week before I went to live in Australia with the visa Work and Holiday. Contrary to expectations, my first reaction was one of relief. Yes, I was relieved because, finally, after so many years of bewilderment and misdiagnosis, I finally had the right one. And not only that, I had the solution to feel good. Unfortunately it did not last long, the relief was followed by an avalanche of doubts and anguish. How could it be otherwise, I asked Mr. Google for help. I needed to find a celiac traveler to tell me that everything was going to be fine, to advise me and tell me about his experience. But I did not find it. Disappointed, I gathered the breath of my family and friends, put it in my backpack along with several products without TACC, and got on the plane accompanied by my older sister Sofía ”.
“They told us we were crazy.” They took their daughters from the private school and enrolled them in a rural school
Already settled in Sydney, Rocío had to learn to cook gluten-free food in a country she did not know and with another language. That is why she created the blog Gluten I challenge you, in order to help those who, like her, must follow a gluten-free diet and seek that food is not a limitation on any trip. “The experience was very enriching, we were in New Zealand and Australia. We work in fields of kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and vineyards. Sofi worked in a hostel and I worked in a food laboratory and a cleaning company. We had Offices super diverse and we learned to adapt and challenge ourselves continuously ”.
However, the adventure suddenly underwent an unforeseen change when the sisters had to return to Tandil, their city of origin. “We found out via video call, we were working in a cherry field in Tasmania, and our parents told us that something was wrong. It was very difficult for everyone. And we came back for our mom’s cancer diagnosis. We settled in Tandil to accompany her in the treatment and in those first months we realized that we needed to do something that would help us as a family to renew energy ”.
Inspired by the experience they had in Australia and with the firm conviction of joining their knowledge, Rocío -who has a degree in Biotechnology-, Sofía -with training in Business Management- and Débora Vulcano, a friend from school, formed the first and only malting facility specialized in the production of gluten-free malts in Latin America. “That’s how it all started, the month we receive the Seed Fund (a credit of up to $ 250,000 that is sought to accompany ventures in their first steps) to start the project, mom passed away. So Today the malting plant is a symbol of life for us, a space that allows us to learn, challenge ourselves and grow professionally and personally ”.
Cousins and partners. Raised on a farm, they want to revolutionize food and open a restaurant like there is no other in the country
Start from zero
Originally they set out to make a beer suitable for coeliacs, as rich as the traditional ones but, above all, like the ones they had tasted on their trips to other countries. They got down to work and began to study. But they ran into a problem: when they went to a friend’s brewery and They wanted to design the first recipe and warned that there were no ingredients in Argentina, there was no variety of gluten-free grain malts to make beer.
“So we decided that first we had to create the first gluten-free grain malting facility in the country, and we did. We present the project for financing from the Seed Fund. With that money, we contracted the design of the equipment and we spent a year in our family’s agricultural laboratory investigating and doing tests to develop the malting protocols, ”says Rocío.
There, in that same family farming laboratory, they installed Ovunque, which with great effort became a full-fledged malting facility. “We grew up surrounded by seeds and seeing their germination was something everyday. Making malt is to germinate grains, it is to do what we saw as girls in our house, it is a natural process that we take care of and know in detail. Each one also has a job, so in general we work a lot and at any time. Every week we start a new malting batch, which has five production stages. And we spend many hours toasting and caramelizing malts that are our specialty ”.
Friends and entrepreneurs say they want inclusive malt beer taps everywhere. “There are still problems finding suitable beers in Argentina. It is even more common for a celiac to look for it in a dietician than in a bar. Little by little, there are more options and the quality of the beer is improving but it is a process that will take time and effort from all of us ”.
With the idea of making Ovunque a B company and a benchmark in natural, nutritious and innovative foods based on gluten-free germinated grains, they set out to organize an original event. This is the Ovunque Cup, the first gluten-free beer contest in Latin America, which will give all gluten-free beer producers and homebrewers access to the return of nationally and internationally recognized judges.
The Ovunque Cup is a tool to encourage gluten-free beer producers to improve their products. “We want to give them the opportunity to receive the return of recognized judges in the national and international beer field. And thus institutionalize a space for training and improvement of gluten-free beers produced in Latin America ”.
Among the judges summoned are Diego Van Der Saar Castro (internationally recognized BJCP Judge), Ricardo Aparicio (BJCP Judge and teacher of the Argentine Sommeliers School), Leo Ferrari (BJCP Judge founder and brewmaster of Cervecería Antares), Carolina Pérez ( founder of BA-Malta and the Beer Tasting Center. Judge BJCP and specialist in sensory analysis), Luis Cragnolini (Founder of CIBART, a national reference company for the sale of alcoholic beverages) and Armando March (President of the Association of craft brewers from Tandil. Founder and brewmaster of Quarryman). The Ovunque Cup is the first exclusive Latin American contest for gluten-free beers. The tasting will take place on October 23, 2021 in Tandil (more information in this link). “Beer is an experience of meeting friends, it is the excuse to share with others. We want there to be inclusive malt beer taps everywhere and that anyone wants to drink it ”.
Share your experience
If you had an experience that improved your well-being and quality of life (it could be medical, nutritional, sports, a trip, sentimental, professional or of another nature), and you want to share it in this column, write to [email protected]