Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe, 4041 E. Thomas Road, is a homecoming of sorts for owner Julie Moreno. She grew up in the area and used to shop at Kitchen Classics, which is now the home to her restaurant and bakery. Her general manager and chef, Brad Petersen, taught classes at Kitchen Classics and he’s continuing that tradition with the café.
Moreno’s concept of a 100-percent, gluten-free cafe and bakery offers such classics as Biscuits and Gravy along with interesting combinations like the Cashew Fruit Bowl. “That’s so good,” she says. “I would have never thought to eat rice at all for breakfast.” Petersen was the one who introduced the dish that combines red cargo rice fried in coconut oil and served with agave syrup and natural unsweetened Greek yogurt. Fresh berries top off the bowl.
You also can get a breakfast taco that features red quinoa and eggs wrapped in a corn tortilla, stuffed with cheese and bacon or chorizo. It’s topped with avocado and served with tomatillo salsa and house potatoes. Even the Eggs Benedict comes with a twist. “We don’t use a traditional sauce, we use a smoked Spanish paprika cashew crème,” Moreno explains.
Coffee aficionados will enjoy the local Cartel Coffee served drip, Aeropress or V60 Pourover style. For larger groups you can order a Chemex. Don’t worry if you don’t understand those terms. It’s fun to have the staff explain the styles and the training needed to make and serve a cup of joe. Jewel’s also serves coconut, almond, hemp and rice milk, which you can also get as a steamer.
If you prefer tea, the café offers organic loose leaf as well and plenty of fresh juices.
Curried chicken salad sandwich is on the lunch menu because it’s a family favorite. “We (her family) love Thai food and Indian food, a lot of which is made with curry.”
Moreno says the favorite lunch item by far is the Chicken and Waffles, but customers also enjoy the gluten-free pizzas. You can order a sun-dried tomato bacon or go for the more exotic raspberry lemon prosciutto. The 12-inch pizzas can feed two people.
Sorghum Caesar Jewel’s Style salad features the whole grain for a more healthy lunch. A great deal of care is taken with the seasoning of each dish but if you prefer a little more salt, take a second look at the Pink Himalayan salt in the shakers on each table. “We don’t need to bleach our food,” Moreno points out, and that goes for salt, too.
All this attention to detail came about because her youngest daughter was diagnosed with Celiac, an autoimmune disease that produces a negative effect from eating gluten. After months of trying to figure out a diagnosis, once Moreno realized the culprit she changed her meal planning. But the gluten-free food items she found just didn’t taste good, so she started experimenting and came up with a recipe for cupcakes.
Family and friends loved them. That motivated her to enter a baking contest. “I was only baking gluten-free for three months and the contest was against professional bakers,” she recalls. “And I won!”
Moreno beat out 35 local businesses and won Best in Show and Best Classic Cupcakes. That led to her baking and selling her cupcakes at farmer’s markets. But she quickly outgrew that model.
Her father, William Hankerson, is part owner and helped her find her bakery location. Other family members also work with her. “It was just going to be a bakery,” she says, “but there was so much room.” So Moreno decided to open up a café as well.
She also wants to share her recipes and offers monthly cooking classes. On Tuesday, April 7, Moreno will teach a class on how making ravioli or fettuccine. On Tuesday, April 21, Chef Brad will teach a class on salad making that includes dressings, toppings and selecting the right lettuce. There is a fee and guests need to pre-register. Both classes will be held in the evening after the café is closed.
For Mother’s Day, Moreno offers two special events. On Saturday, May 9, she will offer a Mommy and Me Tea with finger sandwiches, scones and jelly, and it’s for all ages. On Mother’s Day, May 10, there will be a special menu featuring items such as sweet and savory crepes, salmon Wellington and chicken walnut fruit salad. The hours will be extended from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The bakery also is taking special order requests for this day only. E-mail your idea and it might end up on the menu. To sign up for either event or a cooking class, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can visit the website to see the full menu and hours of operation at www.jewelsbakeryandcafe.com. You also can sign up to receive an electronic newsletter. Call 602-714-5243 for more information.