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When trying to determine the best neighborhood to pick up a gluten-free treat, the Upper West Side would probably not be at the top of that list. The gluten-intolerant folk would be more inclined to head towards the East Village and Lower East Side, where popular shops such as Babycakes, Tu-lu's, and Jennifer's Way reside. Normally, your best bet for anything gluten-free in the neighborhood would be at the Whole Foods on Columbus Avenue, where only pre-packaged items would be available, but all that has changed – By the Way Bakery has landed.
Originally from Hastings-on-Hudson, By the Way Bakery opened an outpost on 90th and Broadway, to the relief of the gluten-free who would like to stay downtown-free as well. The tiny yet cozy standing-room-only shop still exudes its small-town charm, boasting treats such as cookies, brownies, cupcakes, tea cakes, cake cakes, and even granola. Layer cakes are offered in flavors such as chocolate, red velvet, and lemon, and in slices with their "slice of the day," which was carrot cake at the time of my last visit.
Despite living down in Chelsea and generally having no reason to visit the UWS, I've been twice, and besides stuffing my face with their brownie samples, I've tried both mini bundt cakes, chocolate chip and chocolate. Of all the gluten-free goodies out there, cake might be one of the trickiest to master. Most gluten-free creations, cake or other type, are dense, crumbly, and just plain dry and tasteless - yet the cake here is moist, soft, and it tastes like what most gluten-free cake should taste like: cake.
A few other extra perks, as if gluten-free wasn’t enough – Stumptown Coffee is offered, should you desire to wash down your treats with a little something, and not only is everything gluten-free, but it’s all dairy-free as well. Yes, pricing is fairly high for a bakery treat (the mini Bundt cakes run about $5) but trust me, a gluten-free dessert that tastes like the real thing is practically priceless.
Whether you’re gluten or dairy-intolerant, trying to eat healthier, or if you just like dessert, By the Way Bakery is a must-try, no matter where you’re coming from in the city.
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Actress Jennifer Esposito’s gluten-free empire is crumbling, her business partners allege.
The former “Blue Bloods” star and ex-wife of Bradley Cooper is embroiled in a nasty food fight with her investors — including her new husband — who have filed a $43 million lawsuit against her. Esposito agreed to a restraining order against bad-mouthing them, The Post has learned.
While Esposito’s Jennifer’s Way bakery in the East Village remains open, online ordering of gluten-free bagels, cookies and rolls has stalled after its site was “hijacked” and redirected to the actress’s personal blog, the lawsuit alleges.
“Esposito has instilled and promoted a groundless and downright false sense of fear that the very same products with the same recipes, coming from the same facility, that she once stood behind, are now unsafe to consume,” legal papers charge.
For her part, Esposito contends she was “pushed out” of her own company.
The 43-year-old actress opened Jennifer’s Way bakery on East 10th Street in 2012 after a diagnosis of celiac disease, an intolerance for wheat and other products with gluten.
The outspoken Esposito, who was raised on Staten Island, blasted CBS in 2012 after she was cut from “Blue Bloods.” Esposito said she needed a limited schedule because of her illness and CBS said it had to put her Jackie Curtola character on an indefinite leave.
Esposito credited her husband, British model Louis Dowler, for his financial and emotional support in the bakery business. They were married in November 2014.
Esposito teamed up with investors Lawrence Wenner and David Drake in 2014 to expand the business with a commercial plant in Queens to bake and ship orders. The retail shop sold products made on site.
Jennifer Esposito pictured outside her bakery Anne Wermiel
Wenner and Drake sank $250,000 each into the business and then loaned $1 million to the enterprise, court papers say.
Esposito was supposed to transfer ownership of the East Village bakery to the newly formed company, Jennifer’s Way Inc., which she failed to do, court papers allege.
The investors contend Esposito was difficult to work with, in one instance nixing the use of a corn-based ingredient because “she personally was allergic to corn, and not because it posed any sort of danger to those suffering from celiac disease.”
The online business struggled financially and Wenner and Drake allege they could not take out a needed loan because Esposito refused to cooperate.
The battle turned bitter last month when Esposito warned her Facebook followers that the Jennifer’s Way commercial operation was “NOT under my control. Therefore anything from there I do NOT stand behind.” One fan wrote that she immediately tossed $50 worth of muffins and bagels.
Both sides are due in court in Suffolk County March 16.
There will be more legal action for Esposito, who said in court papers that she filed for divorce from Dowler. Among the grounds for divorce is “cruel and inhuman treatment.”
“Like he did during the short-lived marriage to me, Dowler now seems to be aligning himself with individuals he thinks could best earn him money,” she wrote in an affidavit.
The accusations come only months after the couple purchased a $1.1 million home in East Hampton late last year.
Esposito’s lawyer called the case baseless and said the actress “was misled by her investors, and has done nothing wrong to warrant a lawsuit.”
Updated Gluten Free New York List: Restaurants, Bakeries, and More
Last update: MAY 2021
Red highlights = 100% gluten free.
In a city of this size, it’s always helpful to have a list of someone else’s preferences to stuff your face )
I rarely wrote about having celiac disease when I started this site, as the focus was not food. Now that food figures prominently, I get more and more questions about travel with food restrictions. It’s part of why I dedicated a full chapter to food allergies in my book, and started my own celiac guides and translation cards for travelers.
I visit every summer, so this post is a living tree and I update with additional restaurants and bakeries at the bottom of this post, as well as resources for those wanting to visit New York as a celiac.
Gluten Free NYC – My Fave 10 Celiac-Friendly Meals
1. Name: La Esquina
What to order: Carnitas tacos (below), chicken tinga tacos, elote.
Where: 114 Kenmare, near Centre Street.
Notes: Go on a nice day. Order from the takeout window (prices are very different for their seated cafe) and sit across the street in the park. Warning: you might need to fight off pigeons whilst eating.
2. Name: Kesté Pizza & Vino
What to order: For a change, try the Mast’Nicola, a white pizza with olive oil and basil, or the decadent Burrata Roberto, with their own home-made burrata, grape tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. All of the pizzas on the menu can be made celiac-safe and gluten free, and they’ve also got gluten free pasta dishes if you prefer. But why would you, when pizza like this is at your fingertips?!
Where: Two locations: Bleeker street and Fulton Street. And you can order online too.
Notes: My favourite pizza in town is still this spot, despite the many other options I’ve tried. With a dedicated gluten free kitchen , separate pizza cutters, fluffy crusts that will make you smile, and a delicious menu for everyone – this is truly a can’t miss pizza spot in the city.
3. Name: Kotobuki
What to order: Lunch special sushi platter — it comes with the usual sushi plus their delicious riceless UFO roll (below).
Where: 105 E. 9th Street (near 4th Avenue).
Notes: Tell your waiter or waitress that you are celiac and they will bring you gluten-free soy sauce. FYI, their spicy mayo also has a bit of soy so for those who have the disease, it should also be avoided.
What to order: Great banh cuon (steamed rice crepe with wood ear mushrooms and pork), cha gio (fried springrolls wrapped in rice paper) and bo luc lac (“shaking beef”, beef cubes with lemon and garlic, served with lettuce for wrapping). Photo below.
Where: 175 Mott Street, near Grand.
5. Name: Mermaid Inn
What to order: Oysters, obviously. Happy hour menu (daily from 5pm-7pm, including weekends) has $1 oysters and a variety of bar snacks. Sadly the bar snacks are all breaded, but that just means more oysters for you.
Where: One of their 3 locations in the city.
Notes: Not a new establishment but their happy hour oysterfest is always fun. If this doesn’t do it for you, here is a list of the best Oyster Happy Hours in New York.
6. Name: Hu Kitchen
What to order: I couldn’t decide between the Hu bowl and the Thai chicken, so I asked for half and half. While it took some convincing (“wait, you want BOTH?”)…success! And a great combination with a quinoa base and topped with almonds and cilantro.
Where: 78 Fifth Avenue (near 13th Street)
7. Name: ‘Smac
What to order: Gluten free 4-cheese macaroni
Where: 345 East 12th Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues
Notes: Not the healthiest but I know that I can’t be the only one missing super creamy macaroni and cheese. Or, as we call it in the Canada, Kraft Dinner or just the shortened KD. (When I first moved to the US in 2003, any reference to KD was met with blank stares, upon which I would say “it’s KRAFT. You guys must know this!”.)
8. Name: Friedman’s Lunch
What to order: BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich on gluten-free bread)
Where: Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave New York, NY 10011
Notes: They can remove the bacon for the vegetarians among you. Also not to be missed: roasted brussels sprouts. Best ordered as take-out and then moving onto the High Line for a picnic.
9. Name: Ngam Thai
What to order: Their green curry fried rice and their pad Thai were both fabulous. See newcomer Thai Direct Bowl in the list below for a 100% gluten free New York Thai option.
Where: 99 Third Avenue, New York (near 14th street)
10. Name: Cha An Teahouse
What to Order: Pu’er tea (below – the brick, not the leaves), and black sesame creme brulee.
Where: 230 East 9th Street
Notes: Just tell them you’re gluten-free and they’ll remove the wafer that comes with the dessert. Let me reiterate that while not a dessert person, the black sesame creme brulee is perhaps the single best dessert I’ve ever had in NYC. I’m not a chocolate person, so if you are you might not agree. But it’s creamy and sesame-infused and topped with black sesame ice cream and perfectly bruléed on top. It’s fabulously good.
Gluten-Free in NYC: By the Way Bakery - Recipes
Absolutely amazing cafe!! The food is outstanding and doesn’t even taste gluten free. Even my non gf family members love it! The service is incredible as well. I ordered the wrong type of grilled cheese and drove home. An hour later I realized and drove back to twists five minutes before they closed (the grill had already closed). However, they reopened the grill to make me a new grilled cheese when it had been my mistake in the first place. They even gave me a free cookie! All around great staff, awesome food, and exceptional service!
This place is amazing. Everything on their menu is gluten free, nut free. There are so many options on their menu and there are items that are dairy free, vegan and yeast free. The food is amazing, we tried their steak sandwich, meatball panini and Buffalo chicken tenders. Everything was awesome. Staff was super friendly and very knowledgeable about how things were made.
Unbelievable that everything is gluten free. They have the best vanilla cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’m obsessed with their ice chai tea lattes with coconut milk and their breakfast sandwiches with REAL eggs. Don’t get me started on their grilled cheeses. Everything about this place is awesome. They’re super careful about allergies and food restrictions and my stomach always feels great after eating there.
Thank you Twist for making such a delicious and beautiful cake for my wedding! We chose the lemon-raspberry cake, which was wonderfully flavorful. Everyone was surprised to learn it was gluten-free–some guests said it was the best wedding cake they’d ever had! It looked gorgeous too. I showed them pictures of cakes that I liked and explained how I wanted it to look, and they decorated the cake exactly the way I wanted. Twist was great to work with all around.
Tell Us What You Think
Handcrafted. Quality Ingredients. It’s just what we do.
We handcraft crave-able food.
Some of our favorites include our turkey empanadas, and our cupcakes, and then there are our moist macaroons & muffins, and of course our best-selling lemon squares, and our cakes & brownies and then our full breakfast and lunch menu—it’s so hard to choose from our abundant menu!
Our name expresses the surprise guests experience when they realize everything we offer is actually created in a bakery not only with an extensive No-No List, but also free from all gluten, peanuts, tree nuts and soy (except for coconut and soy lecithin). And yes, most of our items are also free from dairy. We have proudly maintained the exceptional taste, texture, and flavor you would expect. Our recipes are handed down from our family to yours, and twisted to meet our shared modern preferences.
I was hosting a brunch at my house and had a friend that cannot eat gluten and dairy. Wanting to provide yummy treats for this guest I go out and seek gluten free and dairy free baked goods.
I stop by the bakery and there are plenty of choices ranging from cookies, cake, cupcakes and plenty more. I pick out a chocolate bunt looking cake and sour cherry cake (they told me this is a best seller).
My guest loved them and told me it is her favorite bakery and she frequents there often. I tried both the baked goods and they tasted wonderful.
The prices are steep but worth it to have prepared yummy treats for people that have these limitations.
Others will see how you vote!
- Ariel F.
- Manhattan, NY
- 0 friends
- 12 reviews
- 1 photo
Got the sour cherry cake. If you can't eat gluten this place is solid. However there is something grainy about gluten free flours that can't beat flour. The staff wasn't very friendly. When I asked "what type of muffin is that?" She replied "they're not muffins."
Others will see how you vote!
- Alessandra C.
- Long Island, NY
- 229 friends
- 65 reviews
- 479 photos
I mean. I can't say enough about this little gem. I was in the upper west side to meet my boyfriend for dinner, but he had another 20 minutes of work, so I walked around a bit and came across this little bakery. My sweet tooth was craving so I walked in.
From the outside it's a window shop, and they have a small table right in the front side of the store (so you can eat and people watch at the same time ) there is a small bench right out front of the store which is perfect for nicer days!
The interior is small, quiet and quaint. There is a lovely wooden display of about 8 different types of sweets on the left side, and a few mason jars filled with cookies on the right. Everything looked so delicious, I was having a difficult time deciding.
I had heard that their sour cherry cake was what they were known for, they had a mini version in their display, so I picked up one of those, a cinnamon apple mini cake and after seeing that there was a carrot cake hiding in the back, I also asked for a slice.
The cakes aren't very visible so if I were to critique anything about by the way bakery it would be to have those front and center so customers could see them! Other than that everything about this place was perfect.
There was a section for coffee and tea and had all different milks as well as agave liquid sweetener for you to add yourself. They had 8 of the cutest Halloween cards displayed on their wall, available for purchase!
The young girl working was very kind as well as informative. I didn't catch her name as she didn't have a name tag however I wish I had because she was an example of how everything employee/cashier should be. She knew about each item in the shop and was helpful to me. I asked if any of the items were gluten free (I'm not but a few of my cousins are intolerant so I'm always curious in case I want to pick something up for a party) she explained that everything in their bake shop is gluten free, and some even dairy free! They use a mix of almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut, chickpea and rice flour! The baker experiments and finds flours that mix well together.
Being that I've tasted many dishes gluten free I know that the taste isn't always pleasant, it's usually dry, grainy or flaky! HOWEVER, to my great surprise I was SHOCKED to find out these baked goods were gluten free, not only were they delicious but the texture was fluffy, some were more fudge like in texture. My treats were delicious.
Being known for their sour cherry , it was definitely a hit! I can see why it's so popular, and the carrot cake (which the young lady actually let me try) I am a HUGE carrot cake fan, but I get super disappointed when it's dry, flaky, hard or overly sweet. For this cake to be as good as it was AND gluten free I was mind blown. For realz, I might turn gluten free now, like all the other weirdos making it a new "diet fad"
Just kidding, I'm not doing that. But I'll be ordering that cake for many parties to come!
So good, if you see this shop, don't waste one minute, run in there. sprint in there, and order everything. No matter how full you are. Just do it.
18 NYC Restaurants Great for Gluten-Free Dining
Dining with a gluten allergy isn't as tricky as it used to be — more and more quality restaurants are becoming aware of diners with specific preferences and needs. Now New York offers a whole range of restaurants with the option to go gluten-free, from wheat-free versions of Chinese takeout classics to Michelin-starred fine dining establishments like chef Michael White's Marea. This list accommodates gluten allergies, but doesn't make those without suffer, too — just remember to notify the restaurant about allergies and food sensitivities before dining.
Note: This is an updated version of a map originally published in 2016.
If you wish to visit us, we require that you wear a mask over your mouth and nose at all times, whether you are inside ordering or waiting outside in our line. Please socially distance yourselves from other customers in line. Be kind and patient as our staff fulfills your fellow patrons' orders. We cannot use your personal mugs at this time, and please refrain from tasting your beverages until you have stepped outside our bakery.
PLEASE NOTE: we do not accept same day orders online. If you wish to order for same day pick up, please visit our bakery as a walk in customer, or call ahead at 503-546-4901 (pre payment required). We are currently not accepting cash in our bakery. If you placed an advanced order online, please know your customer order name and the correct pick up date you selected.
Please be aware of our refund policy: We require 24 hours’ notice to cancel an advanced order. All orders canceled with 24 hours (or more) notice will receive a full refund. All orders canceled with less than 24-hours’ notice will receive a 50% refund. If an order is not picked up and notice of cancellation is not given, the purchase price will not be refunded. To cancel your order, please e-mail us at: [email protected]
Daily 8am-2pm, + Thursday, Friday, Saturday pizza hours 5pm-8pm.
Our restroom and inside dining area is closed, but we do have limited outside seating available.
She Sold Audible To Amazon, Then Built NYC's Top Gluten-Free Bakery Chain And Won Over Whole Foods
As a girl, Helene Godin never had an Easy Bake oven, nor did this register as a deprivation. She’d have been the last one to anticipate that one day she’d create the dominant chain of gluten-free bakeries in the Northeast, which is what her By the Way Bakery has quickly become, growing to four retail locations so far and finding its way into 47 Whole Foods Markets and counting.
Helene Godin in her By the Way Bakery. Photo credit: Helen B. Phillips
Instead, as far back as she can remember, Godin wanted to be a lawyer. She was a legal-minded Hermione Granger, the kind of kid I picture turning in an unsolicited legal brief for extra credit in Junior High. But in 2010, after a staggeringly successful 22-year legal career, including stints as outside counsel for Columbia Records (later Sony Music), in-house counsel for Reader’s Digest and NBC, and General Counsel for Audible, where she and her team facilitated the sale of the much-loved company to Amazon, she landed, finally, as counsel for Bloomberg’s data operation and quickly knew that her dream-come-true had run its course. “Every job I’ve had has taught me something. And what my two years with Bloomberg taught me was that I was done. Done with the law. Done with the corporate world, period.”
Four days of post-retirement boredom
It only took four days of post-lawyering retirement for Helene to find herself, she tells me, “bored out of my skull.” In an attempt to keep her sanity, this non-domestic goddess signed up for one of the only enrichment classes–“why not? I was bored”–she could find locally, which turned out to be “Vegan Baking Bootcamp.” She also took her first leisurely visit to a supermarket in years (“I hadn’t done more than dash in and back out in years, practically with the engine running”), a trip that set her business antennae tingling gluten-free products were getting what struck her as an inordinate –or, she started to think, ordinate–amount of shelf space in her local grocery.
“I sensed an opportunity, something that could mesh with my desire to do something non-corporate and non-lawyerly that could be pulled off right in the adorable little town where I live”–Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, which, it pained her to realize, she had barely had a chance to see during daylight hours.
As her plan to open a bakery began to form, “my family quickly offered the reasonable objection, ‘Helene, you don't know how to bake.’ I said, ‘I'll pick it up.’ ‘But Mom, we’ve had to tell you for years, ‘it’s bake, not broil—charred muffins are not a thing.’ Again, I told them, ‘I’ll pick it up. And, by the way, it’s going to be not just a bakery, but a gluten-free bakery. And not just a gluten-free bakery, but a gluten-free bakery where everything we’ll offer will taste as good as, or better, than, products baked without ingredient constraints.’”
By the Way Bakery Hastings-on-Hudson Storefront. Photo credit: Leslie Kahan, Leslie Kahan . [+] Photography
This hardcore insistence was at the center of Godin’s ethos, and provided the name for what soon would be Godin’s growing empire: Customers should be so delighted with how her baked goods taste that the fact that they are gluten-free, non-dairy, and kosher (I’ll get to that) should be subordinated to the status of an “oh, by the way” detail. “This was, from the very beginning, going to be a top-flight bakery, period. I wasn't going to open for business unless I was able to offer baked goods that were as good as conventional baked goods, if not better.”
She hoped that such a uniqueness of positioning would afford By the Way Bakery the ability to thrive in spite of another, physical, constraint. “Locating the bakery in the town where I live required violating a rule of retail: that you want 360-degree access, a store that people can access from all directions. Hastings is on the Hudson River. So it was cut off at 180. I needed to create a strong enough pull that it would convince people to travel.”
I suggested that they could come have come aboard a boat, but she wasn’t having it. “Boaters are a limited market, Micah–and we don’t have a dock.”
This ambition was easy to aspire to and fiendishly tricky to pull off. Without wheat or butter, Helene had to focus on achieving perfection with the remaining ingredients that were available to her. It became quickly clear how hard this can be to get right you can't just swap in one cup of gluten-free rice flour to replace one cup of wheat flour and expect to get the same results. “Gluten-free baking requires a blend, and I spent a long time playing with ratios to get that blend right, a flour mix that would work with the six core recipes I felt my bakery would need to be able to open: the blueberry muffin, the traditional brownie, the chocolate layer cake, and so forth. Once I finally had that worked out, the flour mix was on lock down. From that point forward, if a new recipe didn’t work with the flour mix, I wouldn’t use that recipe.”
Micah: “And you were doing all this where?”
Helene: “In my home kitchen.”
“I created every recipe myself I really threw myself into it. I had no training, but I was fearless. It was bake, bite, throw out. Bake, bite, throw out. Just keep doing it. Tweaking, learning as I go. Using myself and my neighbors as the tasters.”
Micah: “Because they were going to be your customers anyway.”
Helene: “They were going to be my customers. Exactly.”
Godin insisted on building her bakery from scratch rather than taking what might have been a more typical retirement-business approach for someone with a few bucks in the bank and solid credit to boot: buying an already operational business. As she had been on the recipes, she was hands-on in every other aspect as well. Though she engaged outside designers for store design and logo creation, she worked shoulder-to-shoulder with them on both.
Micah: “I expect Seth chimed in on the logo design, no?” (Helene’s unusual last name may have you wondering if she’s related to marketing guru Seth Godin. “I get that question a lot so, Micah, please set the record straight for your readers. Not only do I know Seth Godin, I’ve had marital relations with Seth Godin,” she tells me in her best legalese. (The two Godins have been together since they were college sweethearts back at Tufts.)
Helene: He did chime in of course he did. It was pretty amusing, because his suggestions were on point–but on point for if it had been Seth’s logo, not mine: ‘I love your logo, but I’d love it more in purple and orange.’”
Micah: “Yes. That would be a perfect Seth Godin color scheme.”
Helene: “Right. But for me? Not so much. And this was my thing”
Helene Godin with muffins from her By the Way Bakery. Photo credit: Julie Bidwell
The first By the Way Bakery location opens for business
In 2011, almost exactly a year after Helene had left Bloomberg, the first By the Way Bakery opened in Hastings-on-Hudson, initially with what can only be called “hobby” hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 9:00 to 5:00 and Sunday, 9:00 to 2:00. But a stroke of luck quickly made that hobby approach anachronistic when Helene’s business, then barely a month old, was featured on the cover of the New York Times’ Style section, bringing an immediate influx of business. “I think everyone I have ever known saw that article. My mother actually said to me, "So, how much did you pay to have The New York Times write that article?,” and I found myself explaining, “Mom, Iraq doesn’t pay to be in the paper, and neither did I.”
Finding her way into Whole Foods
Having been thrust into full-time business operation, Helene quickly grew a new obsession: finding a way into Whole Foods. “Once the business was working on a small scale, I completely caught the bug. I liked what I was doing: I liked running a business, I liked working with bakers, I liked being creative. And, now, I wanted to grow. It felt to me that the next step would be to get our food into a like-minded operation with like-minded customers. To me, that meant Whole Foods.”
She was completely without a plan for making this happen, beyond counting on her energy and persistence to get her in. “I didn’t know how these things worked I just literally would pack up my stuff and bring them to the two Whole Foods stores nearest me hoping to run into the right person. And, in fact, one day I did, because if you give anything enough time, it can work.
By the Way Bakery’s “Amy Cake.” Photo credit: Quentin Street
This initial contact resulted in an invitation to compete in a regional New Product Category Review (a bakeoff) in February of 2013, and soon Helene was happily having her products sold, on a small scale, to her local White Plains and Yonkers stores. This self-confessed “terrible driver” made most of the deliveries herself in her mini Cooper when that proved too small, she graduated her delivery operation to a roomier Subaru. For two years, “life was good, because I had [Whole Foods] bragging rights, but I didn’t need to worry about producing more than my tiny kitchen could handle.”
“Call me in a year.”
This equilibrium collapsed in late 2014 when Helene got a call from Jay Jay, a Whole Foods employee who was working on the opening of a new Whole Foods on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. With great fanfare, he told Helene that By the Way had been selected to supply baked goods for the “grab & go” of that new store, which Whole Foods’ calculations predicted would be one of the busiest in the country.
Helene’s response? “Call me in a year,” once her little bakery had its ducks in a row. Jay Jay politely told her that this was a one-time offer, and implied, again politely, that she’d be crazy to not accept it. So, she took a deep breath, and at the end of that breath, heard herself say, “Of course!”
This invitation proved transformational. Not only did orders from the new Upper East Side store pour in, By the Way products soon found their way into all of Whole Foods’ Manhattan locations by fall of 2016, then expanded outward in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut ) area . With the Subaru obviously insufficient to handle deliveries, By the Way signed with a distributor in late 2018, allowing them to have their products in all 47 stores in Whole Foods’ Northeast Region.
In addition to being gluten-free and dairy-free, By the Way is Kosher-certified. (That last designation may not be a big draw where you live, but it goes a long way in New York and, besides, says Godin, “my Bubbie [grandmother] is kvelling [welling with pride] from above.”) Running a bakery that’s kosher as well as gluten-free can be tricky. Helene tells me she came up with a new take on honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. “A Jewish honey cake is like the fruitcake for Christmas it’s similarly, universally, loathed. So, we came up with something better. A citrus rum soak with walnuts added to the mix. I go ahead and put it on the menu, and I’m really excited until I get a note from the Rabbi, "You know, it's customary to avoid walnuts on Rosh Hashanah."
Helene: "‘Because walnuts tend to dry your mouth and when you are praying you want to pray as clearly as possible.’"
Micah: “Because God might misunderstand you?”
Helene: "While 'H e's God, he'll figure it out' may have briefly passed through my mind, the reality is, I do love learning new things. Just sometimes I’d rather learn them before I've put an item on the menu.”
Moving into the future
“Everything was baked until the end of 2016 in the back of our Hastings store. So we had 400 square feet of retail in front and 800 square feet in back. It was super, super tiny. We had to make the same batter five times because we didn't have enough room for a big enough mixer, which was insanely inefficient. Then in September of 2016 we opened a 7,200 square foot commissary in Pleasantville, New York–20 minutes from Hastings–just three turns. Even a terrible driver like me handle it. And the best thing is that it includes a ‘perch,’ where I make my office, five feet up with big windows that overlook the kitchen.”
Micah: “Does it have a corner? Is it a corner office?”
Helene: “It's a corner, but the only window is into the bakery. The other wall backs up to the ladies’ room.”
Micah: “Oh, so you're the bathroom monitor. Great, everyone wants their boss to be the bathroom monitor.”
Helene: “I can’t actually see that door. But what I am watching are the cake decorators and Ruben at the sheeter making tarts. It gives me great joy. As does sitting down at Thanksgiving and being able to picture all the people who sit down and eat things that I played a role in. The idea that I brought some sweetness to their life makes me really happy.”
Even though Helene, apparently, allows herself to sit down once a year for Thanksgiving, it’s clear that By the Way Bakery is all-consuming. I was wondering if it’s changed her relationships with others, who perhaps don’t see her as much as they used to. She says it hasn’t, “because I was always all in. All in as a lawyer, every day of the week.”
Micah: “And you’re still all in.”
Helene: “And I’m still all in. I had a dog and pony just yesterday with a prestigious chain, a high-end fast casual that has a catering side, that is looking for bread. They said, ‘Do we get a discount if we order 10,000 rolls?’"
“Of course, the answer has to be, ‘Let's wait till you order 10,000 rolls to discuss discounts.’ But it’s very exciting to think about.”
Hi, I’m Nicole! Welcome to NOBREAD- a guide to the best gluten-free dishes around the world, delicious recipes, and my favorite wellness tips and tricks! This blog that I started out of personal convenience quickly turned into my passion, and this passion has become my full-time career. Crazy! I’m excited for you to experience all aspects of the gluten-free life!
By the Way, a Gluten-Free Kosher Bakery
Image by Courtesy of Helene Godin
For 22 years, Helene Godin was a hard-charging lawyer for companies like Audible and Bloomberg.
These days, she’s a different kind of advocate. As founder of , a purveyor of gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher breads and desserts, Godin’s become an unlikely champion of alternative eating.
For someone who swears she couldn’t bake before beginning her business, Godin’s come a long way.
By the Way Bakery was born in Hastings, “the sleepy little village” where Godin lives with husband Seth Godin, the internet marketer and author. After she quit her in-house counsel job with Bloomberg LP, she was walking “our two blocks of downtown and came up with this wacky idea to open something in food service.”
Since the newly unemployed Godin had been spending more time in supermarkets, she also noticed the increase in gluten-free products. Deciding to take a class at the Natural Gourmet Institute, she registered for the only session with an opening — a five-day boot camp in vegan baking. “But vegan baking was just too hard,” she says. “Eggs provide flavor notes, and they’re a binder. Vegan lasted two months.”
Image by Facebook
Helene Godin at By the Way Bakery.
Godin decided to do it her own way. “I chose to invest the same energy I had devoted to the law to winning the case in the kitchen,” she says. “Extensive research and hundreds of experiments finally led to the first successful recipes. That was followed by research on purveyors, and spreadsheets to confirm that that business model made sense.”
Her homework paid off. Godin’s first location was an instant hit. Three years later, Godin opened a tiny storefront on Manhattan’s Upper West Side storefront its success helped By the Way crack $1 million in sales. An Upper East Side outpost that opened late 2015 has “exceeded all of my expectations,” she says.
Godin’s lush cookies, cakes, brownies and muffins have earned a fiercely loyal following, even winning kudos from some notoriously hard-to-please food bloggers. “Our almond cookies are a sensation in Westchester,” she says. “And in the city, the chocolate chip cookie outsells it.” But it’s her oat-based, gluten-free challah — a new addition — that’s become a smash, routinely selling out hundreds of loaves every Friday.
Not surprisingly, Godin did some serious research before bringing her challah to market.
“Jewish law requires that for shabbos bread to be acceptable for Hamotzi, the blessing over bread, it must be made of one of the five grains — wheat, spelt, barley, rye or oats,” she explains. “Unfortunately, the first four grains contain gluten. For a baker of gluten-free bread, this poses a challenge, as oat-based bread can be heavy with a doughy texture.”
Godin teamed with Rabbi Aaron Mehlman, By the Way Bakery’s kosher supervisor, to find a solution.
“We worked closely over more than a year to ensure the challah had a sufficient amount of oat flour so that it provided a noticeable taste of oats,” she says. By the Way’s bread flour mix contains 57% oat flour, with white rice flour, brown rice flour, sorghum, tapioca starch and potato starch comprising the rest. “That provides not just the opportunity, but also the requirement to recite the Hamotzi,” says Godin, who grew up in a kosher home. “If I tell someone my challah meets Orthodox standards, I don’t want to let them down.”
As gluten-free mainstreams, Godin is facing fiercer competition. Dedicated gluten-free operations like Manhattan’s Vegan Divas and Erin McKenna’s Bakery tout uncompromisingly decadent baked goods, while established kosher brands like Katz’s and Lilly’s keep broadening their range.
But Godin’s keeping her head down, focusing on her own expansion. “I’ve love to open abroad, maybe even Paris,” she says. “And the Japanese love anything quirky and American.” Along with eyeing more New York City locations, she’s starting to scout Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Wholesale growth is also on the radar By the Way Bakery’s in nine East Cost Whole Foods stores, and Godin wants to ramp that up.
“People are getting to know us,” she says. “They’ll start with a cookie and a cup of coffee, and then, when they trust us, they’ll get a layer cake. I love hosting people. I love food. And I love community. I’m lucky I get to put those pieces together.”
Michael Kaminer is a contributing editor at the Forward.
By the Way, a Gluten-Free Kosher Bakery
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