Monday, December 28, 2009

To have or not to have a gluten-free menu

I recently read a post regarding restaurants with gluten-free menus where the author is of the opinion that just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu doesn't mean 'anyone' at the restaurant understands the gluten-free diet. This statement really should be qualified to distinguish between chain restaurants and local/family-owned restaurants.

I agree that a number of chain restaurants with gluten-free menus have not been properly trained on the gluten-free diet, so their ability to prepare a safe, cross contamination free meal isn't guaranteed. This situation is not applicable to our beloved Outback in Roswell, where EVERYONE is trained on accommodating the gluten-free diet from the hostess all the way up to the servers, chefs, etc. This situation is also not applicable to Legal Sea Foods, where all of their staff are also properly trained.

There are gluten-free restaurant training programs out there available from the NFCA and GFRAP, but these programs are only effective if every staff member is trained and not just the General Manager and the chefs. Keep in mind that there is a high turnover number associated with many chain restaurants, so keeping all staff members trained can be a daunting task.

However, gluten-free menus offered by local/family-owned restaurants are usually created by the chef/owner using the utmost care and consideration to provide a safe, cross contamination free meal. In these cases, the availability of a gluten-free menu should evoke confidence that these particular menu items are consistently prepared gluten free and are safe. It is also a huge step on the part of the restaurant to reach out to the gluten-free community and show them that they value their business and care about their well being. Granted some of them are just doing it to make a quick buck, but the majority of them start offering gluten-free menu items because a friend or family member is on the gluten-free diet.

As more and more restaurants make gluten-free menus available, please support their efforts by patronizing them. If you happen to have a bad experience, please give them your feedback directly, so they can take steps to correct the situation.

It has never been easier to eat out gluten-free, so I for one am in favor of the gluten-free menu!


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  2. I love chains like P.F. Chang's and Bonefish for their GF offerings. That being said, i have been to many places and have been told the meal I ordered was GF, only to feel really icky after. Having had to be GF for 9 years, I remember when none of this was an option and when you asked about flour in a dish, waiters assumed you were just low carb. I applaud the restaurant industry for trying to understand and for attempting to train their help. And thank you for your postings. Next time I am down from Chatt I will swing by your store!