A Gathering Place

Retired nurse blends love of baking, faith and health education

By Dianna Troyer

Lisa Klamm starts her day with the reminder that the Lord is her shepherd and the inspiration for her bakery: Shepherd’s Place Gluten-Free Bakery and More. Photo by Dianna Troyer.

To Lisa Klamm, baking not just for special occasions like Valentine’s Day allows her to express love through gluten-free food.

Knowing firsthand the discomfort of celiac disease, the retired public health nurse opened Shepherd’s Place Gluten-Free Bakery and More last summer in Paul.

“I love to bake—especially bread and pastries—and want people to enjoy good food without worrying and wondering if it will make them sick,” Lisa says. “My homemade soups are healthy, too.”

Through her bakery, Lisa channels her love of healthy food, hospitality and health education.

With a seating capacity of 16, Shepherd’s Place has become not only an eatery but also a gathering place.

“I want people to feel welcome,” she says. “Bible study groups and other organizations meet here regularly. At the end of the day while we’re cleaning up, the door is always open, too, even after our posted closing time.”

Along with feeding the body, Lisa nourishes the spirit through “Tips, Tidbits and Sayings,” a booklet she writes and prints focusing on the latest research about health issues, inspirational Bible verses and recipes. She has loyal subscribers to her monthly online newsletter about similar topics.

Lisa empathizes with people diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by an inability to digest gluten, causing damage to the small intestine. She recalls her recovery eight years ago.

“After three days of not eating food with gluten, I could sleep more than two hours a night,” she says. “My chronic hives disappeared after several weeks, my blood pressure dropped and I lost weight, too.”

Lisa estimates 60% of her customers are gluten intolerant.

“Others just like my food,” she says of pies, cookies, pizzas, rolls, Danish pastries, coffee cakes, muffins, fudge, peanut brittle and caramels.

Perfectionist Planner

Lisa is a blur in her kitchen, energized by her love of baking breads, such as gluten-free pizza dough. Photo by Dianna Troyer

Shepherd’s Place is the realization of a plan Lisa began formulating 2 years ago.

Anticipating her retirement at age 62 from her 40-year career, she envisioned having a gluten-free bakery.

“I’m a little too hyper to not have some sort of job,” she says. “Plus, I wanted to continue making a positive difference in peoples’ lives.”

The name of her business came easy.

“Jesus is my shepherd and guides me daily—sometimes several times a day,” she says, laughing. “I’ve always loved sheep, too, since I started raising them in 4-H. I still have a small Suffolk flock.”

Lisa tried more than 1,200 recipes in 2 years and—like a true perfectionist—was satisfied with only about 200. She fed the rejects to her sheep.

“They never objected to the extra treats,” she says.

Dissatisfied with gluten-free flour blends, Lisa developed her own. She combines flour from sweet rice, brown rice, white rice, sorghum and millet with starch made from potatoes, tapioca and corn.

“It doesn’t make food taste like sawdust or give it a gritty texture,” she says.

Lisa’s husband, Dan, and their sons, Jeff and Andy, are her taste testers. Unlike Lisa, they approved more than those 200.

“They like just about everything I make and tell me I’m too much of a perfectionist,” she says.

Now, Lisa needed a signature cookie.

She created shepherd cookies, chock full of peanut butter, walnuts, raisins, coconut, oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Along with gluten-free items, Lisa makes peanut brittle and other candy. Photo By Dianna Troyer

“The ingredients will energize a shepherd— or anyone else,” Lisa says.

For people who have milk allergies, Lisa developed dairy-free recipes in addition to gluten-free: pizza crust, angel food cake, brownies, and donuts, bread and pie made with pumpkin.

With her recipes refined, Lisa was ready for business. In August, Shepherd’s Place opened.

Lisa and her 5 part-time employees keep the display case brimming with the daily staples: Danish pastries, sugar cookies, lemon pound cake, and zucchini, pumpkin and banana breads.

The bakery also fills orders for reunions, parties and special events.

“The bakery is my new mission,” Lisa says. “It would make my German grandmother smile, too, because she always said you cannot be bored and cannot even say that word.”

Lisa works about 10-hour days, typically 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“She’s the hardest working person I know,” employee and decades-long friend Lauri McCall says. “For Thanksgiving, we made 40 pumpkin pies and 55 dozen dinner rolls. She makes work enjoyable.”

Lisa says she is “blessed every day” as she visits with people and tries new recipes.

Blueberry Muffins

“I’m always learning,” she says.

“When I start and end my day, I think of everyone who supports my vision and dream—family and friends who give me feedback, employees, volunteers and, most of all, customers who tell me they can eat what I make and feel good.”

The bakery at 9 North Fourth Street East is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Lisa can be contacted through her Shepherd’s Place Facebook page or at (208) 431-4486.