Once considered obscure and faddish, the gluten-free diet has gained significant traction as a valid and respectable lifestyle choice. Just this year, Thomas Keller has released a gluten-free flour, and Barbara Kafka’s gluten-free cookbook, The Intolerant Gourmet, was nominated for a James Beard award. The movement is even on the brink of hitting Main Street America; Subway has entered final stages of testing on their gluten-free bread, and Domino's Pizza has started making gluten-free crusts in select markets.
In the midst of this dietary zeitgeist, enter caterer and former chef Simone Shifnadel, a gluten-free advocate with big dreams. She recently launched a $30,000 Kickstarter campaign to create Zenbelly Kitchen, a gluten-free shared kitchen, café, and community space.
Shifnadel runs Zenbelly Catering, a San Francisco-based company with a focus on organic produce, grass-fed meat, and wild-caught fish. Zenbelly also caters to people with special dietary needs, notably celiacs. Shifnadel suffers from a mild version of celiac disease, and she has tried to weed gluten out of her life as much as possible.
Zenbelly currently operates out of a shared kitchen space in Hunter’s Point called Eclectic Cookery. She calls it a great place to work, but aspires for something better. Rather than disconnected cooks and food artisans punching a clock on a neutral, generic kitchen area, she envisions a true community.