Denise Cumming, the founder of Pip’s Place The Gluten Free Cakery (pipsplacenyc.com) was always creative in the kitchen, creating delicious homemade treats for her three children. But it wasn’t until the former stay-at-home mom took on the challenge of her daughter’s Celiac Disease that the idea for Pip’s Place was born. An elegant, feminine cakery on the Upper East Side, Pip’s Place is designed to be a safe neighborhood haven for those with Celiac Disease or gluten allergies and will also appeal to anyone searching for fresh baked cakes, cookies, muffins and cupcakes.
Pip’s opened in May 2012 with a menu of over 40 gluten free cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins and other baked goods, all homemade daily of locally sourced ingredients. In the process of becoming certified by the GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization), Pip’s offerings are guaranteed to be safe for those with gluten allergies and Celiac Disease. Customers can stop by for a bowl of gluten free oatmeal in the morning (accompanied by a cup of exclusive Brooklyn-roasted “Pip’s Coffee”), or choose from delectable options such as Carrot Pineapple Coconut Cake, classic Chocolate Chip Cookies or decadent Fudgey Brownies.
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Denise prided herself on never buying store-bought goodies for her family, yet never realized that her daughter Olivia’s sluggishness, low energy and tummy aches were due to an allergy to gluten (a protein found in wheat, oats barley and rye). While living in Singapore, an acute attack of what seemed to be appendicitis sent the then-14-year-old to the hospital. It wasn’t until the family had moved to London in 2007 that Olivia was officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Unable to get a timely appointment with a pediatric gastrointestinologist, Denise fortuitously found a naturopathic doctor who diagnosed Olivia with Celiac Disease and recommended she confirm the diagnosis with an endoscopic biopsy and immediately alter her diet. Within one week of living with a gluten free lifestyle, Olivia said, ‘Mom, do people feel this good every day?’
GLUTEN FREE GOODNESS
While searching for substitute desserts for Olivia, Denise soon realized store-bought cookies might be free of gluten, but they were also free of taste. She explains, “I was alarmed by the fat and sugar content, and they had a bad texture and bitter aftertaste. Combined with the calories, there was no way I was giving that to my child!” The solution? Her own menu of gluten free meals and baked goods. Her creations were so good; her two sons didn’t realize they were also eating completely gluten free! Within a few months of adapting to her new diet, the formerly exhausted Olivia was trying out for a spot on her school’s crew team.
PIP, PIP, HOORAY!
Having dedicated her life to raising her children and facilitating her husband’s busy banking career, a return to New York in 2011 seemed like the perfect time for Denise to create her own business. She explains, “I realized my passion was in the baking of gluten free treats. There is an awesome feeling seeing someone’s face when they’re eating a homemade treat they haven’t had for a long time.”
Encouraged by her family, she began to look for equipment and space, settling on an address just a few blocks from her new home on the Upper East Side (1729-31 1st Avenue, between 89th and 90th). Since Pip’s is inspired by her daughter, Denise named her new enterprise a diminutive of Olivia’s childhood nickname “Pippi.” Olivia’s silhouette serves as Pip’s chic, girlish logo, complementing the space’s color scheme of pink, grey, white and glossy black.
Pip’s delivers its baked goods all over the New York area, and is also working on shipping across the United States and Canada. Denise hopes to expand the Pip’s concept with multiple locations across New York City in the coming year.