arrowCreated with Sketch.arrowCreated with Sketch.Page 1Created with Sketch.arrowCreated with Sketch.arrowCreated with Sketch.close-icondia-arrowFill 1Created with Sketch.follogo_exsitereadPage 1Created with Sketch.Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Nicole Cogan

Founder, NoBread

Do you have a food allergy? I know I do. And if you, like me, ever hesitate when dining in restaurants, it’s because most places don’t talk to people with allergies. Nicole Cogan, too, was shocked at the lack of communication between restaurants and diners when founding her gluten free website, NoBread.

“Some restaurants claim to accommodate allergies, but then create cross-contamination by using the same pasta pots,” says Cogan. “Or they’ll have an amazing dish that’s naturally gluten free, but that’s strangely missing from the gluten free menu. There needs to be a dialogue between the industry and people with allergies.”

Sure, it sounds like a simple problem to fix — but if it’s so simple, why is no one else fixing it? That’s why Cogan built the Internet’s shrine to gluten free dining — a site focused on connecting restaurants with restaurant goers.

Allergies may not always be life threatening, but they threaten lifestyles.

Nicole Cogan - Founder of NoBread

FOLLOWING HER DIAGNOSIS at the age of 19, Cogan was amazed at the lack of information around gluten allergies. As a diner, there was no cohesive place to research options beyond the well-trodden gluten free circuit. Few restaurants understood her allergy.

“It got to the point where I was afraid to eat out,” she continues. “Because I would always get sick — even when there was a gluten free menu. And when you remove restaurants from your social life, you can’t do the simplest things… can’t date or go to dinner with friends. You end up either relegated to a few restaurants, or cooking rice at home.”

No offense to Cogan’s rice cooking abilities, but this sounds pretty dismal — especially in New York City.

“People, especially in the restaurant industry, don’t realize how important it is to talk to people with allergies,” she asserts. “Avoiding gluten — or any allergen, for that matter — may not always be life threatening, but your lifestyle is threatened.”

The Issue: Gluten Free Diners Live In Fear

When you remove restaurants from your social life, you can't do the simplest things… can't date or go to dinner with friends.”
Nicole Cogan - Founder of NoBread
Avoiding gluten may not be life threatening, but your lifestyle is threatened.”

COGAN FOUNDED NOBREAD to solve this communication gap, starting an Excel spreadsheet that cataloged which dishes did and didn’t make her feel sick. It became her way of dining safely everywhere from Avra to Jack’s Wife Freida.

“At first, I wanted NoBread to be gluten free directory,” Cogan explains. “But then I decided it could be bigger… that it could close the allergen loophole and communicate that information not only to people with allergies, but also to restaurants and brands.”

Cogan tells restaurants when she gets sick (a simple follow-up few people attempt). She tells them when a simple modification can make a dish gluten free. And then she packages it all into an easy-to-use format and passes that back to the diner.

A recent example is her collaboration with General Mills. Not only did Cogan discuss with the brand how Cheerios could easily be made gluten free, but she also relayed said change to her readers.

“As far as I know, NoBread was the first site of its kind,” says Otto Cedeno, founder of New York’s Otto’s Tacos. “She was the first blogger to go beyond restaurant reviews and create a dialogue between diners and restaurants. As a restaurant owner, I remember asking myself, ‘How has nobody done this before?’”

The Solution: Communication in and out of the Kitchen

Nicole Cogan - Founder of NoBread

IT’S AN ISSUE THAT APPLIES to many folks — that the fear of an allergy eventually cripples your life. And Cogan is disruptively solving in the simplest way.

“She changed the game,” says Priscilla Tsai, founder of allergen conscious skincare line, CocoKind. “Instead of just educating diners, she’s actively working to improve the situation in restaurants. Nicole gives options to restaurants who were too scared to play until she outlined the rules.”

For a taste of the disruption, visit Cogan on her Instagram or website.

The fear of encountering allergens eventually cripples your life.”


Facebook Twitter

You May Also Like


Mario Batali

Chef, Entrepreneur

June Oven

Cofounders Matt Van Horn and Nikhil Bhogal

Shireen Yates

CEO & Cofounder, Nima
Share: Facebook Twitter