Mary Steiger and Susan Fulton of Gourmet Girls (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Sweet Success: Gourmet Girls Mark 12 Years of Gluten-Free Gastronomy

November 10, 2023
By Sam Jump
By Sam Jump

Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro has been a go-to spot for not only folks seeking gluten-free meals but for those looking for a great-tasting meal. Mary Steiger and Susan Fulton are celebrating the restaurant’s 12th anniversary this weekend from Friday, November 10 – Sunday, November 12.

Stop by, say hi, give them a big congrats, and have a complementary pink champagne cupcake to celebrate!

Gourmet Girls’s anniversary cupcakes (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)
Here’s my interview with Mary and Susan of Gourmet Girls:

Me: How did Gourmet Girls get started 12 years ago?

Gourmet Girls: Although we opened our brick/mortar 12 years ago, we sold our wares at the Heirloom Farmer’s Markets for a couple of years before we opened the bakery/bistro. Mary and I met in 2008 at a business networking group when we both had other business ventures where discovered our mutual love for making and eating food. Mary is a Scottsdale Culinary Institute valedictorian graduate and I’m just a girl who loves to eat, it was a match made in heaven.

We formed a catering company and early on had a guest who needed gluten-free pastries. We thought we could just buy some products, but all those years ago the offerings were terrible, and we didn’t want to put our names on that! So, we started experimenting with baking gluten-free goodies, both adopted the gluten-free lifestyle and the rest is history, as they say!

a car parked in front of a brick building
Gourmet Girls (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Me: What was your inspiration and what set your vision apart from Tucson’s then-current offerings?

Gourmet Girls: We saw that there was an almost total lack of gluten-free products available for the local population in Tucson. We began selling a few products at the farmers markets and were blown away by the response and the number of customers that came to our booth. Many of them had been missing their favorite foods for years so we started making what everyone missed the most and our product line kept growing.

We quickly realized that in addition to bakery products, our guests were craving meals as well so we began searching for a location to open the bakery/bistro and opened our doors at 11 a.m. We were blessed with an enthusiastic clientele from the get-go since we were known from the markets.   

a plate of food and a glass of wine
Gourmet Girls (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Me: How has Gourmet Girls evolved and grown since then?

Gourmet Girls: We have continued to grow our bakery product line and expand our breakfast and lunch offerings. We still continually ask our guests “What do you miss the most?” and then try and create it. Some recent additions: Pita Bread, Monte Cristo Sandwiches, Biscotti, and Pecan Sticky Buns — we are having way too much fun!

We have also become enthusiastic supporters of the Tucson community, longtime members of the Tucson Originals, recently awarded the Tucson City of Gastronomy Certification, participate annually in numerous fundraisers, Empty Bowls for the ICS Food Bank, Bite Nite to benefit ALS, Zooscon for Reid Park Zoo, The Ronald McDonald House Party — just to name a few. We are members of the Gastronomic Union of Tucson (GUT) and are honored to be working side by side with Tucson’s wonderful variety of chefs to produce multiple dinners for the public each year.

We also expanded our restaurant space in 2014 to double in size. The bakery space grew and we actually got an office that we could both work in at the same time!

Me: What are some of the most memorable moments or milestones you’ve experienced during these 12 years?

Gourmet Girls: Memorable moments are every time we see a smile on a child’s face who never had a birthday cake before, or see a guest cry in the dining room because they are so happy to be eating fried pickles and onion rings. And, Mary was a finalist in 2016 for the Tucson Women of Influence Award.

Me: What values or principles have guided you in maintaining the success of Gourmet Girls?

Gourmet Girls: That’s easy. Treat your employees like family (in some cases better) and every guest as if they are the most important person who ever walked in the door because they are. We have learned over the years that every guest has a gluten-free journey story, and the ability to help them is the most rewarding part of our business.

What never ceases to amaze us and what is the driving force behind what we do, is that there is a whole emotional side to being gluten-free, and for many people, it’s very traumatic, because they are left out of a lot of things. We are here to change that! Food is very much a part of culture and a focal point of most festivities and social events. We have created a warm, caring, and understanding space for our guests.

a plate of food on a table
Gourmet Girls (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Me: How have you adapted and innovated in response to changing food trends or customer preferences?

Gourmet Girls: We try to roll with some of the trendier foods and although we started out not making fried foods, we learned that our gluten-free peeps miss having those things. So, we installed a couple of fryers and now offer all kinds of items traditionally cross-contaminated and out of bounds for GF diners.

Me: Can you share some insights into the local and sustainable sourcing practices at Gourmet Girls?

Gourmet Girls: Our favorite thing is that Mary harvests and makes all our prickly pear jams and syrups we use in drinks and cupcakes. She has become a pro at it, processing gallons every season. Also, we source sprouts, grass-fed beef, citrus, herbs, and pomegranates locally.

a person standing in front of a cake
Mary Steiger and Susan Fulton of Gourmet Girls (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Me: Is there anything you’d like to express to your loyal customers and the Tucson community as you mark this milestone?

Gourmet Girls: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Tucson rocks as a food center of the universe and we are so proud and honored to be a small part of it. We have the most loyal, supportive guests ever and you are the reason we do what we do. We are beyond grateful to all of you.

Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro is located at 5845 N. Oracle Rd. For more information, visit

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Sam Jump is a conduit of empowerment and connection, fueled by her drive to leave a mark on the world that reminds others of the power of compassion, curiosity, and community. Her ability to integrate clear vision and mindful communication...

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