If you are one of those people whose eyes cross when you hear the words “gluten-free”, keep them closed and have someone guide you to Figg’s Ordinary because on March 15 Ingrid Hansen will introduce you to a gluten-free and refined sugar-free world abundant with gourmet fare.
The custom-designed bakery and store joining the enclave of Old Mill Shops at 200 South Cross St. will be open 6 days a week and serve gluten-free and refined sugar-free breakfast and lunch.
“Breakfast menu offerings include quiche, various warm grains, and house made yogurts. The lunch menu features salads, soups, sandwiches, and a selection of pastries,” Hansen says.
Figg’s Opening Menu offers examples of delights to come: a Protein Powerhouse salad with choices of romaine or kale, hardboiled egg, roasted chickpeas or got feta cheese, plus fresh carrots and sprouted pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and flax seeds, topped with shaved coconut; or a Guacamole by way of Morocco Sandwich with plain or buckwheat focaccia bread, mashed avocado, lemon juice, chopped hardboiled egg with splash of pepper and harissa.
All items will be available for take-out and custom orders will be welcomed, and ingredients are listed for every menu item. Many vegan options will also be available and all ingredients are locally grown.
Figg’s Ordinary — formerly the Old Mill Bakery and Café—has been completely renovated as a sleek glass and stainless steel open kitchen and bakery (Hansen also does interior design). Several round tables and quirky-cool chairs from the Naval Academy make for a cozy dining area and outdoor tables will be added this spring.
Hansen isn’t new to Chestertown. She and her wife, Lynn, have been splitting their time between DC suburbs and Chestertown for the last two decades, originally attracted to the Eastern Shore for its access to horseback riding.
“We really consider Chestertown our home. It’s the place we chose to raise our two girls, Claire and Lorentz. Claire graduated from Washington College in 2014 and Lauren is a senior at the University of Chicago. They think of Chestertown as home.”
The newly-minted restaurateur has not always been involved in the food industry. With an academic background as an art historian, her own gallery in DC, plus an MBA that led her into international trading, a restaurant seemed like an unlikely part of her trajectory.
“When the recession hit in 2008, the art gallery world struggled and I decided to get out.”
It was about this time that Hansen decided to experiment with gluten-free baking.
“I’ve been baking since I was 12, throwing yeast all over the place, so I decided to try something different and I discovered how much better I felt when I cut out gluten and refined sugar. Also, my daughter Lorentz seemed to have some sort of food allergies that couldn’t be pinpointed, so we tried gluten-free with her and it made a world of difference,” she said.
Noting that the standard American diet uses white flour, refined sugar and processed food stripped of most nutritional value, Hansen hopes that people don’t get hung up on the notion that gluten-free products are bland because that’s far from the case.
Gluten intolerance has been on the medical radar for some time, most notably as celiac disease which affects about 1% of the population. Millions of others, however, may benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets, citing depression, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, skin problems, painful inflammation in their joints, bloating and abdominal pains as possible indications of gluten sensitivity.
In 2015, Hansen tried another experiment—to sell her gluten-free and refined sugar-free goods at Chestertown’s Saturday Market. It was a surprise success and the encouragement from the community to open a permanent bakery and store.
“I was amazed at the number of people at Saturday Market who were well-informed about food allergies and aware of their dietary needs or just curious about healthier eating,” she says.”
Figg’s Ordinary joins a growing number of health-related businesses that may become a new facet in defining Chestertown’s strength’s and opportunities.
“There’s an increasing number of health practitioners in Kent County. From acupuncturists and yoga instructors to herbal therapies and nutritionists, and I think we will see it grow. There are more plans afoot for collaboration between businesses and room for others to join.”
Hansen also wants to strengthen the community’s health network by participating in hospital nutrition programs and with other organizations.
“I’m going to try going wheat-free and see how that goes, ” she says. “But what really gives me joy is working with people and introducing them to a new food experience. See you on March 15.”
And how did she arrive at the name, Figg’s? The Spy thinks you should go in and ask her.
Wednesday-Monday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm