Years of hard work led Orly Gottesman to an abundance of success. She created a line of gluten-free flours called Blends by Orly, now on the shelves of most supermarkets, and she has just launched a new line, Grainless Baking Company, which won its own award, the Sofi, from the Specialty Food Association, producers of the Fancy Food Show. She just opened a new dual restaurant in Manhattan: Modern Bread and Bagel by day, Arba by night. And last month she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. When Emunah was looking for entrepreneurs to honor for their Women of Wonder event on May 15, Gottesman more than fit the bill.
“Saying yes to this honor was an easy answer for me, even though I have a lot going on,” said Gottesman. “This definitely spoke to me. I am honored as an entrepreneur to be raising money to support kids who don’t have the same privileges.” She noted that Emunah is known for helping children who come from underprivileged backgrounds make something of themselves, and part of that is running programs on entrepreneurship.
Gottesman grew up with Emunah. Her mother, Irene Gottesman, is a past president, first on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and then in Englewood, where she and her husband, Roby, raised their family, and where Gottesman and her family live now. “I remember going to a luncheon where my mother was honored,” she recalled, “And I went on an Emunah mission for my bat mitzvah.” Her mother couldn’t be prouder. “As a parent, you always hope that your children carry on the values you teach them,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see Orly not only follow her dreams, but give to others, and help Emunah, which is an organization I have always admired and supported.”
Gottesman’s road to success started at a low point. She moved to Paris with her husband, Josh Borenstein, for his business, shortly after both graduated from New York University. But without a working visa, she had few options. “I had a choice. I could do nothing, or I could get out there and start exploring and finding new ways to express myself creatively and make something of myself.”
Although she had no entrepreneurial background, her husband did—his family owns Chompie’s, a chain of restaurants in Arizona—and he “ignited the spirit of entrepreneurship” in her. “If I find something that I feel has potential, I’ll go for it and be persistent,” she said.
The idea that sparked Gottesman’s new career was to become an apprentice to a local baker. Her husband had been diagnosed with celiac disease, and she wanted to learn how to bake so he could enjoy authentic but gluten-free Parisian bread and pastry. “I think back to that first week in Paris, how I was so persistent. I told them, ‘I just want to help you and learn; tell me what you need and I’ll do it.’”
During this time, she wasn’t earning any money. “That’s why entrepreneurs need financial resources until their product is successful,” she observed. “And that’s what Emunah is trying to do—provide the resources so children and young adults can go after their dreams and have a chance.”
After France, the couple moved to Sydney, Australia, where Gottesman enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking school. She set up her own test kitchen to do an independent study in gluten-free baking, an unheard-of concept at the time. “I was always the one doing something different, out of the box. That’s what you need to be an entrepreneur.” Learning from failure is also part of the process. “I would go home every day after school and experiment. I couldn’t sleep; I would wake up in the middle of the night trying the same recipe until I got it right.” Dividing her time between Sydney, Arizona and Englewood, she developed Blends by Orly, with different mixtures of ingredients for baking breads, cakes, cookies and muffins.
Bagels made with Manhattan Blend, from a recipe she created, are now being sold at Chompie’s. “They’re as good as regular if not better,” Gottesman said. “I started to think, what if we could do this in New York? How great would it be to be the only place in town to get a fresh baked, kettle boiled, gluten free bagel? I know the potential of what my flour can deliver; I have customers using it; but I was personally never able to show the greater world.”
When she and her husband saw a place for rent that had kettles and a bagel oven, they decided to take the plunge. While working out a variety of concepts for the restaurant, they met Chef Nir Zook in Israel, who had owned the popular Cordelia restaurant in Jaffa. He talked to them about his dream of opening a restaurant in New York. They decided to join forces to create a dual kosher, shomer Shabbat restaurant concept. Modern Bread and Bagel is a bakery and café during the day, with an all-day brunch menu, but at night, Chef Nir transforms the space into Arba, a romantic dairy restaurant with fresh, seasonal produce, cheese and fish and spectacular Israeli non-mevushal wines. “We have two Jewish sommeliers and they are the only ones allowed to touch the wine,” Gottesman emphasized. “That’s part of the training all the staff is given.”
At the same time, she concluded her experiments with completely grain-free mixes. Grainless Baking Company began as a Pesach project but the logistics became too expensive and complicated. The final product is a blend for those on paleo diets and everyone who wants to avoid grains like rice, not just gluten. The flours are made of fruits, vegetables and quinoa—no corn, soy or nuts. The line includes one flour and three baking mixes—pancakes and waffles, cakes and muffins and chocolate chip cookie mix. The products are hitting the shelves now and will be shown at the Fancy Food Show in July.
Three other women will also be honored as Women of Wonder. Shimi Adar is an entertainer and motivator who brings the energy of Zumba, without the inappropriate lyrics, to girls. Kim Heyman is a brand ambassador and philanthropist, who introduces the latest fashions by Tel Aviv designers to American women. Yael Schulman founded Goodnight Moon Layette, for new baby clothing and supplies, in Cedarhurst.
Gottesman encourages women and men to attend the Women of Wonder event to help young women in Israel reach their potential. “Emunah is an organization close to my heart, combining sisterhood and Zionism to transform the lives of Israel’s children. Emunah provides safe homes, vital therapy, and life-changing education, dramatically altering their circumstances and breaking a vicious cycle of neglect and despair. Together at Emunah’s Women of Wonder, we will inspire and celebrate Emunah’s women and the important work of Emunah.”
The Women of Wonder event, a cocktail reception with a light fleishig buffet and desserts, will be held on May 15, 7:30 p.m., at The Space at Flatiron, 35 East 21st Street, in New York. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit https://www.classy.org/event/women-of-wonder-2019/e230694.
By Bracha Schwartz