Delightfully Gluten Free (TM)

A Gluten-Free Shared Kitchen Space?

Sara recently shared with me this amazing project in the works in California, and I just had to share it with all of you!  (This is especially great during Celiac Awareness Month!!)

Simone Shnifadel is working hard to open a shared gluten-free kitchen space in San Francisco.  I’ve only recently begun to understand just how important this is.  There is a small farmer’s market in my town, open on Saturday mornings.  I’ve always wondered why on earth it is so tiny.  A friend called and asked if she could have a table to hold a bake sale to raise money for an Alzheimer’s walk.  She was told that all food sold had to be prepared in a commercial kitchen.

Now, if that is the norm (and I think it may be), no wonder it is so hard to start a gluten-free business.

I contacted Simone to find out a little more about her.  This is what she shared with me:

I have been growing my organic catering company since I moved to San Francisco 5 years ago. In that time, I discovered that I had a gluten sensitivity that was the cause of my near constant brain fog, headaches, lethargy, and general malaise.  Since that discovery, I’ve admittedly gone through phases of both strict adherence to to the gluten-free diet as well as completely ignoring it (In Paris, for example!)  The thing that has kept me on track while simultaneously derailed me is the fact that I am a chef.  So I have the means to create amazing gluten-free treats, but also have the attitude that I should be able to eat everything, cause I’m a chef!  It’s a catch-22.  This constant volley can only go on for so long, and it was only a matter of time until I said “OK, that’s IT” I feel like crap when I eat gluten.  Period.  Not worth it.  

Where has all of this back and forth led me? To where I am right now, of course.  In my brainstorming of how to open my very own kitchen for my catering business, it quickly occurred to me that my business is not a 24/7 operation; I tend to have either nothing going on, or 7 things at once.  I wouldn’t need the kitchen every day, and taking SF real estate prices into account, it only made sense that I rent it out to other chefs and bakers who need a commercial space to work their magic.  But there are already several shared kitchens in San Francisco, and I wanted something different that helped people on a different level.  It only made sense that I take my catering company into the 100% gluten-free realm and open a kitchen that was safe for people with celiac and gluten allergies.  Once the lightbulb went off, I was amazed to find out that this didn’t already exist in San Francisco, considering how progressive this city is in terms of food.   HOW is it possible that SF doesn’t have a shared GF kitchen?  There are so many GF bakers and chefs who already work at shared kitchens, it only makes sense that we have our own!  Once the gears started turning, I could see Zenbelly Kitchen so clearly:

  • A clean, safe workspace for GF chefs and bakers to create their goods
  • A coffee shop store front, selling really good coffee and the amazing GF goods made in house
  • A place for workshops and cooking classes, to help people learn more about the GF lifestyle
And for me, personally, it would allow my already existing catering business to:
  • Go 100% gluten-free while still offering amazing food for everyone, not just those with Celiac
  • Launch a meals-to-go & delivery service, featuring grass-fed meats from Fallon Hills Ranch, and organic local produce.  California style comfort food to go. Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo friendly!

This sounds, to me, like a great opportunity for Simone, for other gf bakers and cooks in San Fran, and for anyone who eats in that area!

Please watch this video (at the bottom), and if you feel so compelled, pledge a little bit to this cause.  It may be across the country from you, but these kinds of things have a way of working out for everyone’s benefit eventually.  Maybe if this takes off, someone will have the nerve to start one near you.

(It’s easy, too.  You can do it through your Amazon account or a credit card, and you won’t be charged unless the project receives enough funding.)

If you like the idea, please help spread the word!