Field Trip: Jennifer’s Way Bakery–a Gluten-Free Wonderland

Staci Strauss

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This week, we visited a unique gluten-free wonderland in New York City’s East Village: Jennifer’s Way Bakery. Maybe you don’t know this, but we, the co-founders of Handpicked Nation, shoot the food films on the site under our production moniker, Slow Films.

And fortunately for us, we were shooting for our lovely Jessica Crescenzi aka Beauty Guru NYC. The Beauty Guru is passionate about the connection between diet and skin health–she’s obsessed with skin care! We went to the bakery because Jessica wanted to interview the owner, Jennifer Esposito about their shared experience of living with celiac disease. The clever Beauty Guru also brought Dr. David Colbert into the mix–he too, is convinced that there is an absolute connection between diet and overall wellness, especially when it comes to healthy glowing skin.

On a blustery, rainy, cold late spring morning, we managed to catch a cab from the Beauty Guru’s Soho headquarters to the cozy bakery. As we entered the warm comforting space that Jennifer created, our senses were overwhelmed with the delicious aroma of freshly baked gluten-free goodies that use the highest quality ingredients–a real foodie’s paradise.

We tried to concentrate on setting up for the interview despite the parade of bagels, breads and cupcakes that continued to fill the case just before opening the doors to customers standing out in the rain, patiently waiting.

We set the cameras and lights and when Dr. Colbert arrived, umbrella dripping, we were ready to roll!

Jessica launched the conversation with the news that Jennifer has a book coming out today all about her journey from sickness to health after discovering she had celiac disease. Jennifer had a tough time determining the cause of her health troubles.

When she discovered her body’s inability to tolerate gluten, she set about finding healthy alternatives to the gluten-free products that were currently offered.

“They (the products) tasted like a shoe! I’m Italian, I want to eat!”, she explained.

The Beauty Guru concurred, she talked about the difficulties of going out for dinner or to a party and trying to enjoy it, all the while avoiding the gluten land mines in everything offered.

And my favorite–she told us that after 14 years gluten-free, her husband still emails her the menu from a dinner spot possibility to insure there is something for her to eat before he reserves a table. What a great guy!

In our interview, Dr Colbert dove deeper on the diet/skin health connection–he expressed his amazement at the lag in the western medical community when it comes to considering a patient’s diet when making a diagnosis.

As the cameras rolled, I made a mental note to learn more about this good doctor–and here’s what I found on his site, which features the amazing skin care line he’s developed:

David A. Colbert, MD is the founder and head physician of New York Dermatology Group. He is board certified by the American Academy of Dermatology and board eligible in Internal Medicine. Established in private practice in New York City since 1995, Dr. Colbert began his medical studies at La Faculty Libre de Medicine de Lille in France, earned his degree from New York Medical College and completed his dermatology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York. In addition to being a highly skilled and experienced physician specializing in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Colbert has a degree in Internal Medicine, and a Fellowship in Acne and Wound Healing from Boston University. Before establishing himself in private practice in Manhattan, Dr. Colbert studied and lived in Paris, where he was a dermatological research consultant for Chanel.

Of course Dr.Colbert knows ‘you are what you eat’–he’s French!

All in all, the discussion was illuminating. They talked about the symptoms of gluten intolerance as well as some great solutions. For one, Jennifer is building a 17,000 square foot baking facility so she can make her products more widely available.

At Jennifer’s Way bakery, the philosophy is that gluten-free folks–especially kids, should enjoy tasty treats too. Apparently the Beauty Guru and the Good Doctor agree!

Stay tuned, as May is Celiac Awareness Month, and the video of this terrific interview will appear on both Jessica’s site as well as here on HPN.

We’d like to thank everyone involved for bringing light to this crucial health issue.

Have you suffered from gluten intolerance? Have you gone gluten-free?

Photo credit: Staci Strauss