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Gluten-free menus enter food chain


NEW YORK (AP) - As a longtime chef in four-star restaurants, Joseph Pace had seen appreciative customers before. But nothing prepared him for the day that a well-dressed man walked into his Greenwich Village restaurant, ordered a pizza and a beer, and broke into tears.

That man, Pace recalls, had been diagnosed 10 years earlier with celiac disease - an incurable affliction that makes the body unable to take anything containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

The pizza and beer that Pace serves in his restaurant Risotteria, like many other items on his menu, are formulated with substitutes for wheat and barley, making his place a magnet for people who have celiac disease. The customer told Pace that he hadn't been able to enjoy a pizza and beer for a decade.

"This is what the restaurant business is," Pace said. "Making people happy."

Not every customer may be as effusive as that one, but Pace says he gets tremendous amounts of feedback from customers, which also helps him try out new recipes. His latest experiment is a pasta made from white beans. Rice, the main ingredient in risotto, is naturally gluten-free.

Founded just five years ago, Pace's restaurant quickly became known among people with celiac disease, who make heavy use of the Internet and e-mail to share restaurant recommendations.

Several major restaurant chains are also reaching out to the celiac community. Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang's and other restaurant companies offer menus of gluten-free dishes, and more are joining them.

Last month, Mitchell's Fish Market, a 13-restaurant chain based in Columbus, Ohio, introduced gluten-free menus, and six months ago Boston-based Legal Sea Foods did the same in its 31 restaurants. Richard Vellante, the executive chef for Legal Sea Foods, said his company adopted a gluten-free menu after hearing requests from customers and also noticing that competing restaurants were doing it.

For people with celiac disease, dining out can become a source of anxiety because of the risk of unintentionally eating something that contains gluten.

Many consult pocket-sized Clan Thompson food guides published by a Maine family which has six members living with the disease. The Thompsons started making the guides in 1997 and now sell nearly 5,000 a year. Mother Lani K. Thompson, who does not have celiac disease herself, says she's seen a "huge jump" in awareness of the disease in the past year and a half.

Kevin Seplowitz, a former computer security expert who developed the first commercially produced gluten-free beer, Bard's Tale, was diagnosed with celiac disease almost four years ago. He even quit going out to dinner, fearful of inadvertently eating something with gluten in it.

"I think the most underappreciated aspect of being diagnosed with a chronic disease is the psychological impact," Seplowitz said. "You have to be very diligent about it. If we order something and say, a barbecue sauce had beer in it and they say it didn't, we get sick."

Outback Steakhouse, a major casual dining chain with 760 restaurants, has offered a gluten-free menu since 1998, and its Tampa, Fla.-based parent company Outback Steakhouse Inc. has also adopted gluten-free menus at two of its other chains, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill.

"They're a very loyal following," Ben Novello, president of Outback Steakhouse, said of celiac patients. "The return goes beyond the sales that we generate from the loyal customers we get. It goes to goodwill."


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Wish I lived in Columbus, Boston or Tampa ... :P

There is a place with gluten-free-WF pies (cooked to order, about half an hour) near me but it plays a very loud sound track unfortunately ...

I read of several fish & chip shops that have a gluten-free-WF day a month and people drive several hundred miles for it ...


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    • Long pause because I wanted my latest lab results and they took forever.  Cortisol, ACTH, estadiol, vitamin a and whatever else were all fine. They are retesting my thyroid in four weeks. I definitely bought the wrong product and glutened myself a few weeks back so I guess that has to wait which really irritates me. My gliadin iga ab was greater than 100 almost two yrs ago at diagnosis so I guess sometime next yr I'll redo that and hope it's down :-/. Trying to do all the right things and get bad information from doctors.  Thanks for all the info you've shared and helped me with. I've had lab work every month since May and will next month for the thyroid again. Sigh. 
    • Hi Carle, Congrats on your symptoms going away.  I did seem to have reactions to rice for a while after going gluten-free.  But after some years on the gluten-free diet I can eat it again.  So reactions can change over time. I was searching for an article on gluten in common store products, but didn't find it.  There was a group that did testing on some common grocery products like beans, rice, corn etc that we would normally consider to be gluten-free naturally.  But they found some level of gluten in some of them.  So it's not impossible to pick up something off the shelf that ought to be naturally gluten-free and find it is contaminated.  That may have happened with the rice you ate.  A quick rinse of water before using the rice might help.
    • Hi Doit, The reference ranges to the right of the test result show the values the result ought to be in for normal readings (no celiac disease).  Your results appear to show no higher than normal results that I can see. However, you aren't following the recommended process for celiac disease blood testing.  The blood test is supposed to preceded by 12 weeks of daily gluten eating.  That is generally enough time to cause a sufficient quantity of antibodies to build up in the blood stream to be detectable by the tests. Not having antibodies in the blood stream doesn't mean you aren't being damaged.  People with DH (dermatitis herpetiformis) sometimes test negative on the standard blood tests.  My theory is possibly because the antibodies are concentrated in the skin instead of the blood.  In gut damage, it is possible the antibodies are concentrated in the gut, instead of the blood.  After some time they show up in the blood also.  The thinking is the antibodies go where the work is.  Anyway, theories aside, it takes very little gluten to kick off an immune response.  Those antibodies are not aimless soldiers.  They start doing their work and destroying gluten and gut tissue even if you don't feel symptoms.  Did you know there are some people who have no GI symptoms of celiac disease but still have it?  They call that silent celiac.  So going by symptoms is not a good way to judge actual damage in the gut. You are wise to go in for followup testing, but the followup testing is hopefully to show compliance with the gluten-free diet, and lower antibody test results.  Have your close family members been tested for celiac disease?  It sounds like they should be.   There is a 5% higher chance of them having celiac than the general population. Welcome to the forum!
    • Thank you!  I emailed the company too but the last time I did that with one I never heard back.  I hate to chance it but could use some relief!
    • Hey all, I'm new here but not new to celiac. Wheat intolerances are all over the place in my family  as well as AI thyroid issues (Hashis). When my CRO and ESR rates were extremely high, my doctor suggested it could be gluten/dairy and I was gluten free for the better part of a year. I've been tested in the past twice, once with a "false positive" and one totally negative. Going gluten free didn't help my inflammation rates go down (they went up actually) and I became more lenient with my diet recently because of the nature of my work (I'm a chef), with little negative effect. At my last appointment, I confessed to having had eaten gluten with no real issue for the past several weeks, and when the doctor prescribed other blood work I wanted a celiac panel "just in case" but we both agreed they'd all be negative.  WELP I just got my results back via email, and the primary panel came back all within normal range, but the celiac reflex panel came back positive  my results are posted below  I've googled what a celiac reflex panel is and haven't come up with anything, I've searched these forums and others and can't find anything that even really explains what this test is. I'd love some help understanding the different tests as well as my results. Thank you in advance!        Ps, it looks like my crop job lopped off the top result, but for those who can't tell, the result is Anti-Gliadin Ab Iga 7    Thanks again!      
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