Ad: [ ? ]

Tuesday, July 28

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Four-Season Farm Sprouts Up in East Village Windy City Blogger Wednesday: Homemaker's Habitat »

Interview Wed Nov 18 2009

Interview: Dani Albers of Floriole on Baking with Celiac Disease

Since May 2007, Dani Albers has worked as a baker for Floriole, the Green City Market fixture of French-inspired pastry and soon-to-be Lincoln Park cafe started by Sandra Holl. Albers lives with celiac disease, an incurable condition whereby gluten triggers one's immune system to attack the small intestine, preventing the proper absorption of food. All forms of wheat and related grains like barley and rye contain gluten proteins. In a traditional pastry kitchen, gluten is as prevalent as butter and sugar. I emailed with Albers to find out what it is like to have celiac disease in her line of work.

Sharon Bautista: Were you an avid baker before your celiac diagnosis five years ago?

Dani Albers: I was. But the need for a cookie (among other things) that didn't taste like sawdust kicked my baking hobby into a higher gear. It was really the catalyst for going to pastry school.

SB: What was your professional experience prior to joining Floriole?

DA: I graduated from the French Pastry School in Chicago in 2006. I joined Floriole as a part-timer just a few months out of pastry school, and now I'm working full-time. I've had some brief experience working in a handful of kitchens around the city.

SB: How, if at all, does having celiac affect your work day-to-day?

DA: A part of working in any kitchen is taste-testing. I obviously can't taste everything we make and have to rely on other cues to know that my product is turning out the way it ought to: color, texture, aroma, feel, etc. Sometimes I just have to ask someone to check something for me. I probably gravitate towards working on the flourless products because I know I can be fully involved in their development.

SB: What flourless projects have you undertaken with Floriole? How did they come about?

DA: This summer I started making gluten-free cookies for the MCA market (molasses-spice and oatmeal-ginger-cranberry). It came about because practically every week someone asks if we have any gluten-free products. I have been developing my own recipes for a while and with Sandra's blessing, decided to put them out for the public to see what kind of response they would get. (We can't offer these cookies at Green City Market because the gluten-free flours I use aren't locally produced.)

We offer other products that are naturally gluten-free (caramels, French macarons, meringue boulder cookies, peanut butter & jelly cookies), and I tend to work on those whenever I can. (The caveat is that while these products are flourless, they are made in-kitchen, where wheat flour is used liberally.)

SB: Do you think having celiac has affected the way your co-workers think about gluten sensitivities? What impact, if any, do you think you've had having celiac and being part of the Floriole team?

DA: I'm not sure. Perhaps it's more topical than it would be normally, but these days, it seems everybody knows somebody with a gluten or wheat allergy.

SB: What accommodations, if any, has the group at Floriole made because of your celiac disease?

DA: Sandra and the whole kitchen gang have been really supportive; I've received so much encouragement in developing my gluten-free recipes, and they offer great critique when I bring things in that I'm working on. And of course, Sandra tolerates the fact that I'm a cook who can't taste certain items.

SB: What do you like most about your job?

DA: Hard to pick one thing. We have an awesome team, and there's a great spirit of collaboration in the kitchen. I love developing new products. We've been developing new caramel flavors (bacon, gingerbread), and that's been really fun. But when there are fresh macarons to taste, I'm all over it.


sally / January 18, 2010 5:05 PM

Thanks this was really helpful! Dani went to FPS being celiac! and I want to go to Pastry School and all I get is a door slammed in my face!! Reading this says don't give up hope! There might be someplace out there that will not do this. That's all I want to be in life a pastry chef a gluten free one,(cause i cant eat gluten either) and to have formal training to be one, that would be wonderful!!!!

Add a Comment

Please enter the letter l in the field below:

Live Comment Preview

Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Feature Tue Apr 21 2015

"Cookie Love" Uncovers Dessert's Best-Kept Secret

By Robyn Nisi

The first line of the introduction to Mindy Segal's newest cookbook Cookie Love (Ten Speed, $25) is all you need to know for understanding why this is required reading for all bakers: "I am a cookie nerd." Yes, the celebrated...
Read this feature »



Thu Jul 30 2015
Chicago Handshake Launch @ Crown Liquors

Thu Jul 30 2015
Anthony Bourdain @ Auditorium Theatre

Sat Aug 1 2015
Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff @ Schubas

Drive-Thru on Flickr

Join the Drive-Thru Flickr Pool.

About Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Robyn Nisi,
Drive-Thru staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15