Suggestions for restaurants interested in offering gluten-free items

This question recently came in via the Celiac Bay Area email group. I posted a response and figured it would be worth reposting that message here in case other restauranteurs were considering adding gluten free to their menus:

I think it’s great that you’re seeking out more feedback. I wish more restaurants would. Here’s some thoughts:

Of course the pizza process has to be careful of cross contamination. Flour can waft through the air, shared utensils, and doughy hands can carry gluten particles, and those are ways gluten can get in your product, so taking steps to minimize that risk will be very helpful. Separate area, separate equipment, separate toppings, etc., and be sure people are washing their hands before touching the gluten-free stuff.

Consider adding rice pasta as an option. Tinkyada is real good, and DeBoles isn’t bad either. Cook it in a separate pot with water that hasn’t been used for regular pasta. Identify which sauces are gluten free. Consider keeping uncontaminated sauces in a dedicated area too.

Some places keep perishable and pre-made items in the freezer so they don’t spoil, such as sauces and pizza crusts. You could even make a bunch of pre-made gluten-free garlic bread kept in the freezer, and throw them on a frying pan as needed. As we all know, pan frying toast is wayyyyyyy more yummy than broiling… 😉

If you have other entrees such as bisteca, roasted chicken, or salads, see if those can be modified to be gluten free as well. Again the process needs to be dedicated. Salads are usually easy, but they need to be mixed in separate dedicated bowls, check the dressing ingredients, and be sure no-one goes through all that trouble only to place a bunch of croutons on the thing at the end… 😀

If you put a little GF on the menu next to items that can be modified, the gluten-free customers will be very appreciative. Also put text on the menu stating that if customers are ordering gluten-free, to be sure to let the waiter know who in the party has issues so they don’t put the wrong thing in front of them.

Redbridge is a fine commercial gluten-free beer. Some places keep that in stock. Others such as Bard’s Tale and St. Peter’s Sorgham Beer are good too.

I also recommend finding a consultant to review and verify your gluten-free processes and help with training.

I can’t wait to try out your place sometime!

Hopefully this information will provide a bit of guidance in getting started with preparing a gluten-free restaurant menu. This information is by no means exhaustive; merely a place to begin research. For people with any food allergies or severe intolerances such as celiac, eating out can be risky and use the appropriate levels of caution.

At the very least this post might help build some awareness of what a pain in the ass I am to go out to dinner with. ¡Salud!

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