Vegetarian bakery owner heading to entrepreneurial leadership program


Meredith Corey-Disch, owner of Community Loaves in Murray Hill, was on Instagram when she saw an advertisement for the James Beard Foundation’s “Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership” program.

“I looked it up, read the description and the goal for the women who entered the program matched up with the skills I wanted to work on,” she said. “So I applied.”

Corey-Disch found out last month she was one of the 21 recipients of the inaugural fellowship, which aims to promote women’s leadership in the culinary industry by helping female chefs and business owners grow their businesses.

“I was super excited,” she said. “It will give me that timeout to explore where the business is headed, which I haven’t had the time to do, and to define our business plan more clearly.”

Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, said the foundation, whose mission is to nurture and honor chefs and others who are improving America’s food culture, received almost 90 applicants for the fellowship.

“The advisory board chose Meredith Corey-Disch for her passion for creating a dynamic environment for employees and customers at her all-organic vegetarian bakery,” Ungaro said. “In addition, the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership advisory board was impressed with her desire to increase her business savvy and create a fair and just working environment. All these qualities made Meredith an excellent candidate for our program.”

Corey-Disch opened Community Loaves on Edgewood Avenue South in July 2013 and at first, bread was the bakery’s only offering.

She learned the art of bread making after spending five weeks as an apprentice at a sourdough bakery in England.

“It’s the same traditional process of making bread, but you use a sourdough starter, which is flour and water mixed together, and yeast and bacteria naturally occur,” she said. “It takes longer to make and it’s more difficult, but it has lower gluten content and it’s more nutritious. There’s also a lot more flavor.”

In January 2016, Corey-Disch expanded the business to include a café and began offering a variety of desserts and pastries.

“Having meals and pastries and selling wholesale was the answer on how to make a sustainable livelihood,” she said. “There was a lot of trial and error when it came to what we would offer and thankfully we had supporters who followed along with us as to what worked and what didn’t.”

Community Loaves prides itself on using ethically sourced, organic ingredients, Corey-Disch said.

“Our flour is from an organic stone ground mill in North Carolina, which we get it fresh every three weeks,” she said. “We get our eggs from a pasture-raised farm, Bethesda Farm, our dairy from Wainwright Dairy, and in-season produce from as many local farms as possible.”

As Corey-Disch prepares to head to Boston for the fellowship, which will be held Sept. 10-15, she’s looking forward to meeting other women who are at similar places in their lives.

“I’m hoping to become more capable of defining our financial goals and addressing a work/life balance,” she said. “My husband and I are having a baby in December, so I’ll need to let the business run itself while I’m not there and this event has accelerated that process for me.”

The “Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership” program curriculum will cover advanced business and finance matters related to entrepreneurship and expansion, as well as provide gender-specific training and leadership development.

Corey-Disch and the other fellowship participants will be paired with a mentor who will provide expertise and career development support on an ongoing basis once the program concludes.

“I’m happy where we are, but this will make me think about our goals and get me to work towards another goal,” she said. “It’s going to be a good challenge.”

Ann Friedman: (904) 359-4619



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