While many people may know of Jennifer’s Way, a gluten-free bakery in the East Village, what they may not know is the Jennifer behind the shop is actress Jennifer Esposito.
Jennifer Esposito spent years–decades, even–feeling terrible. Yes, her acting career was going well (movies like Crash, TV shows like Spin City), and she was married to dreamy Bradley Cooper for a bit, and she sure LOOKED fantastic. But physically, and emotionally, Esposito was a wreck.
Here’s how she describes her day-to-day condition: “Sleeping close to 13 hours a night and waking up exhausted, constant stomach problems, raging panic attacks, joint pain, knees buckling, extreme weakness, yellowing of my skin, extreme sinus headaches, numbness, tingling, and hair and nails so weak they would just break off from a simple touch. Not to mention the huge lump that was now protruding from my neck, just under my ear.” Horrible.
And no doctor, no specialist, could figure out why.
And then, finally, a miracle. You see, Jennifer Esposito had celiac disease, a genetic, autoimmune disorder which is exacerbated by gluten. Stop eating the gluten, end the suffering. Simple… and not so simple. Because if you like to eat, if you care about good food, as Esposito most definitely does, there’s wasn’t a lot out there to really tuck into and enjoy.
And so Esposito taught herself to cook all of things she loved, but gluten free. And, also, “dairy free, refined sugar free, soy free, peanut free, allergy friendly, and organic.” And the result of her journey, and her new-found mission to help her fellow celiacs, as well as the ever-increasing ranks of folks allergic to, or even sensitive to, gluten protein, is this lovely little bakery in the East Village, Jennifer’s Way.
For East Village apartment residents, this is terrific news, whether you’re celiac, gluten sensitive, vegan, or just really love, for example, the occasional (or frequent!) moist, dense, sweet and satisfying devil’s food cupcake. Because although Jennifer’s Way gluten-free bakery is a fiercely protected “Safe Zone”, it’s easy for everyone to fall for Esposito and crew’s seriously scrumptious treats.
I stopped in during opening week, and, in addition to aforementioned, above-pictured devil’s food cupcake (loved the hit of citrus in the frosting), also wolfed down a first-rate carrot-cake cupcake, and a pair of soft, gooey, chewy cookies, one chocolate chip, the other a dark cocoa concoction. True, the goodies at Jennifer’s Way aren’t cheap–the high cost of gluten-free vigilance–but they are most definitely good.
Jennifer Esposito’s East Village gluten-free bakery Jennifer’s Way is located on 10th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. For lots more information about Esposito’s personal story, as well as recipes and resources for celiacs and the gluten-challenged, see the Jennifer’s Way website.